A County Court in Melbourne sentenced 32-year-old Dimple Grace Thomas to two and half years in jail with a non – parole period of 15 months. She also faces deportation to India after serving the sentence.
Dimple who was employed as a personal care worker, was behind the wheels of a car which collided with one driven by Ashlea Allen, who was 28 weeks pregnant, in Cranbourne on 8th August 2016. As a consequence of the accident, Ashlea suffered severe abdominal pain and underwent an emergency caesarean in hospital. Her new born daughter, Melarniah, survived for three days after which the life support was turned off.
Dimple was going back home after a gym workout when the incident happened. After leaving the carpark instead of turning left, she illegally drove her Mitsubishi Lancer across three lanes in an attempt to enter a gap in the central median strip and turned right. She was blocked by a car making a legal turn into the shopping centre. She did not see Ms Allen’s car on the highway when she turned right and the cars collided at about 60km/h.
County Court Judge James Parish Considered the following points for sentencing.
Dimple Grace’s Lawyers maintained that she is an inexperienced and nervous driver, which made her take the illegal right turn which caused the accident.
But Judge James Parrish found the design of the intersection was “unambiguous” and made it clear cars leaving the car park had to turn left, and that Thomas had displayed a “wanton disregard for the law” in driving across the highway. Moreover, Grace was at the intersection many times before and obeyed the law. She was taking a shortcut for a quicker trip home.
The court heard Thomas did not appear distressed over the child’s death until police told her she faced up to 10 years in jail. As per her lawyer’s advice, she proceeded to provide “ no comment” answers every time she was asked about what happened. She also pretended to Police that she made a silly mistake though she admitted to her husband that she was taking a short cut.
As a part of contested plea, Dimple pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving causing death. This effectively mean that she accepted no guilt. Witnesses to the accident said they could not believe their eyes that she making a right turn there which was not permitted.
Dimple also made a bizarre claim that she couldn’t understand English when the matter came before the County Court. Judge Parrish said the nurse had been educated in English in India, had given her record of interview in English, spoken to doctors in the language and written two letters to Mrs Allen, which proves her wrong.
Dimple and her husband hails from Kerala in India. She is a permanent resident of Australia. As per Australian immigration law, any non-citizen sentenced for more than one year could be deported to their native country.
The verdict was an unexpected blow for the Thomas family. Dimple Thomas was present in the Melbourne County Court to hear the judgement, along with her husband and three-year-old son. They broke down hearing the sentence.