A woman who fled the scene after her car collided with a 13-year-old girl on a bicycle in suburban Melbourne is likely to avoid a stint in jail.
Thi Nguyen, 42, pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday to failing to stop and failing to render assistance after a motor vehicle accident.
Additional charges against Nguyen, including dangerous driving causing injury, had previously been withdrawn by prosecutors.
Both the Crown and defence have asked Judge Gabriele Cannon to punish Nguyen by way of a community corrections order rather than a term of imprisonment.
On November 5 last year, Nguyen was driving a black BMW along Bell Street at Coburg when the child was riding her bicycle towards traffic, weaving between lanes.
Nguyen’s car and the girl’s bike collided with the girl “thrown into the air before she landed on the road”.
The girl, who was not wearing a helmet, was placed in an induced coma with life-threatening internal injuries and a fractured rib.
Nguyen did not stop at the scene.
She handed herself into police four days after the accident.
“Suddenly I heard a bang and I didn’t know what was going on and the windscreen was shattered,” Nguyen told police.
She also claimed that although she didn’t stop at the scene, she pulled over at a nearby side street.
“At the accident I went a bit further and there was an off-street and I pulled over there,” Nguyen claimed to police.
“I was thinking of stopping on Bell Street but there were cars travelling so I couldn’t stop.
“I was frightened.”
Defence lawyer Tim Grace said Nguyen’s driving did not cause the child’s injuries.
“This young girl…was riding her bicycle in this completely reckless fashion along Bell Street,” he said.
“My client has suffered this, being charged by police with these serious offences as a direct result of circumstances where none of her driving caused the terrible injuries that (the child) suffered.
“She panicked, she was frightened. She didn’t see what had happened.”
But Judge Cannon didn’t accept that Nguyen didn’t know anyone had been injured.
“She left her for dead, didn’t she?” she said.
Mr Grace said Nguyen had realised “the error of her ways”.
“She’s continually prayed at her temple for the welfare of (the child) and she feels terrible about what happened,” he said.
Nguyen previously made a bid to have her case dealt with by a magistrate but it was knocked back and sent to the higher County Court.
Judge Cannon adjourned the matter pending a report from Community Corrections.
Nguyen, who is on bail, will return to court on August 17 for further plea and sentence.