Dangerous driver spared jail

Picture: Con Chronis/AAP

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

An unlicensed, ice-addled driver who crashed into a power pole and critically injured himself and his passenger has been narrowly spared jail.

Slade Musgrove, 25, pleaded guilty after accepting a sentence indication at the Victorian County Court for dangerous driving causing serious injury.

Shortly before the crash, Musgrove and his girlfriend had been using meth when they were told to immediately leave their temporary abode in Cranbourne late at night on 2 December 2021.

Due to the Covid lockdown, Musgrove was stranded from family in Queensland and without work and accommodation. The couple were regularly sleeping in the car.

“Regrettably you considered you had little choice but to drive away,” sentencing judge Gerard Mullaly said.

Early the next morning, due to Musgrove’s “possible momentary inattention”, the car veered off a straight, dry section of Springvale Road, Springvale South.

Musgrove belatedly corrected but the car spun across a nature strip into a power pole.

Emergency services were at the scene for 15 minutes until they discovered the severely-injured passenger under the car. Not wearing a seatbelt, she was ejected during the crash through a hole ripped in the footwell.

She required resuscitation and emergency surgery at Monash Medical Centre to save her life. Her list of injuries included a brain haemorrage, severe fractures to her face and femur as well as ribs, lower leg and arm.

Musgrove was freed from the car by firefighters, and also taken to hospital in a critical state.

The car was estimated to be travelling between 76-90 km/h when it struck the pole in the 80 km/h zone.

Several drugs, including high levels of methamphetamine, were found in Musgrove’s blood sample.

However CCTV vision of Musgrove buying petrol minutes before the crash showed his movements and demeanour were apparently “normal”.

There was little to no evidence of why Musgrove veered off the road, Judge Mulally said. Though he shouldn’t have been driving at all without a licence and with drugs in his system, he added.

The judge took into account Musgrove’s mild brain injury due to the crash as well as PTSD and early drug use stemming from childhood deprivation.

Without ever having a Victorian licence, he had been accumulating driving offences in Queensland and Victoria.

He had served 50 days’ jail for failing to appear in court but wasn’t a regular criminal offender, the judge stated.

With a stable relationship and home, Musgrove was now in a better position to reform than in the past – when he had been“too often in a drug-addled state”.

Prosecutors had sought a jail sentence.

Judge Mullaly, after deliberating “anxiously” on the case and the victim’s injuries, opted “by a bare margin” on 15 May for a four-year community corrections order.

The order includes supervision and 250 hours of unpaid work and treatment for drug use and mental health.