Vic driver jailed over fatal street race

By , 25/04/2020 19:35

Adem Arpaci will be sentenced for culpable driving after a drag race that killed two people.A “hyped up” driver has been jailed for 14 years over the deaths of two people whose car erupted in a fireball during a drag race in Melbourne.

Adem Arpaci, 23, was on Friday sentenced to 14 years in jail, with a minimum of nine-and-a-half years, over the 2016 deaths of of Ivana Clonaridis, 18, and 19-year-old Harley Churchill.

Arpaci had pleaded not guilty over the fatal crash, but in February a Victorian County Court jury found him guilty of two counts of culpable driving causing death.

The jury returned the guilty verdict following a hung jury during his first trial in November.

Judge Frances Hogan said Arpaci was “in a hyped up state” when he goaded Mr Churchill into the drag race after attending a series of illegal “skids” burnout gatherings in Melbourne’s north on January 27, 2016.

“A catastrophic collision was almost inevitable, and unhappily did come to fruition,” she said.

“Your driving was partly responsible.”

Mr Churchill’s ute was speeding at 182 km/h along the Western Ring Road on January 27, 2016 when it fishtailed after blowing a tyre.

The ute crashed through a barrier on the EJ Whitten Bridge and burst into a fireball as it rolled down a ravine, killing Ms Clonaridis and Mr Churchill.

Arpaci was racing side by side with Mr Churchill’s vehicle moments before the crash, and did not stop after the crash.

He later lied to police about his involvement and signed a statement which said: “I didn’t see anything untoward and definitely did not see the crash.”

Arpaci has pleaded guilty to perjury over the false statement.

Judge Hogan said it was a miracle no one else was killed or seriously injured as Arpaci and Mr Churchill’s car weaved in and out of traffic at high speed.

“Just because you kept control of your vehicle and did not crash into anyone does not mean you are not liable for any deaths that occurred,” she said.

“Without you there would not have been a race.”

She said Arpaci had tried to minimise his responsibility by claiming he had tried to slow down, but 17 witnesses gave evidence that contradicted his version of events.

“A strong message must be sent out to all drivers that if they engage in racing or other criminally negligent behaviour, they need to be aware that they will be appropriately punished for it.”

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