Jail for Dingley deadly drive

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

An L-plate driver has been jailed after a 53-year-old man was thrown off his car and dragged for 80 metres in Dingley Village just before Christmas, 2019.

Floyd Hennessy, now a 22-year-old father, pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to culpable driving causing death.

In sentencing on 16 May, Justice Amanda Fox said Hennessy deliberately braked, swerved and fishtailed while trying to dislodge the victim from his Commodore roof.

In the early hours of 20 December 2019, the unemployed Hennessy had been attempting to steal tools from parked cars, in order to buy Christmas presents.

Peter Stojanovic, who was at a nearby party, spotted and chased him and his companion Brandon Cummings, now 20.

As the youths fled into Hennessy’s Commodore, Mr Stojanovic climbed on the bonnet and was thrown onto the roof.

The victim clung on the roof racks, as Cummings told Hennessy to “shake the car a little bit”, “tap the brakes” and “fishtail”.

The car hit speeds of about 35-40km/h before briefly stopping at the end of Toorak Drive and then reversing rapidly down the length of the road.

Mr Stojanovic fell from the car as it reversed left into Spring Road.

Justice Fox said it was unproven whether the youths knew Mr Stojanovic was under the car, but he was dragged forward about 80 metres.

The pair drove away, offering no care for the victim who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

They abandoned the car in bushland off Spring Road, and ordered a ride-share car to their homes.

“It cannot be said in your favour and by way of mitigation, that your conduct immediately after the incident was commendable,” Justice Fox said.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Stojanovic’s partner of seven years told of missing him every day.

“Due to the lockdowns that commenced in 2020, she spent much of her time alone with her grief,” Justice Fox said.

She accepted the youths had spontaneously reacted to a “perceived threat”.

“I accept Mr Stojanovic was angry, there were at least three other men close behind him, and you panicked.”

But his death was caused by Hennessy’s “grossly negligent” driving – and Cummings encouraged and instructed him to do so.

“You did not simply drive with the deceased on the roof, but deliberately braked, swerved and fishtailed in an attempt to dislodge him.

“The risk to Mr Stojanovic was obvious. There is no suggestion however, that you intended or wanted any harm to come to him.”

Prosecutors had earlier dropped manslaughter charges against the co-accused pair.

Cummings pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering life through his driving instructions to Hennessy during the incident.

With no prior criminal history, his offending was “out of character”, Justice Fox said.

Cummings was convicted with a three-year supervised CCO, including 250 hours of unpaid work as well as drug and alcohol treatment.

Hennessy’s rehabilitation prospects were “good” despite subsequently re-offending by driving as an L-plater without supervision.

“That is what you were doing on the night of your offending, and it is troubling that you have not learned a simple lesson: do not drive without a fully licensed supervising driver present.

“If you had followed that rule, I would not be sentencing you today.”

Justice Fox noted the case’s delay, the offenders’ young ages, and early guilty pleas.

Hennessy was jailed for up to seven years, with a non-parole period of four years and three months. He had served 93 days in pre-sentence custody.