Driving laws in South Australia are set to be restructured after the Lamborghini driver that killed schoolgirl Sophia Naismith was found not guilty.
Alexander Damian Campbell, 37, was cleared by the District Court this week after an infamous crash that left 15 year-old girl, Sophia Naismith dead and her best friend, Jordyn Callea, 15, seriously injured.
Mr Campbell had already pleaded guilty to driving without due care when he lost control of his Lamborghini Huracan at Glengowrie in 2019, but denied driving dangerously after Sophia died instantly from critical head injuries.
Following public outrage at the decision, Premier Peter Malinauskas has vowed to overhaul the state’s driving laws, just one day after the controversial verdict was handed down.
Speaking to Sophia’s parents, Pia Vogrin, 48, and Luke Naismith, 49, on Friday, the Premier said he had ordered several government agencies to take “immediate action” and would be presenting “important” driving laws to parliament this year.
“Like all South Australians, I was shocked to learn of Sophia’s death,” he said.
“For any parent, the thought of losing a child is unimaginable.”
The reforms, which are expected to have bipartisan support and the backing of Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, include a new licensing scheme for drivers of “elite, high-powered sports cars”.
The state government would also like to see the disabling of traction control in high-powered vehicles banned, after the court heard Mr Campbell’s $330,000 Lamborghini Huracan had an electronic stability control system that was deactivated during the crash.
The strict laws would also ensure drivers accused of causing death by driving from holding a licence until their case is resolved.
A review, chaired by both SA Police and Attorney-General Kyam Maher, will also examine further changes to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act “relating to a death occurring because of unacceptable driver behaviour”.
A new “reckless homicide” driving offence, with a “mid-tier” charge is also being called for by the Naismith family who were devastated by the decision on Friday.
Campbell, a father-of-one, is facing a maximum one year in jail and a six-month driving ban when he confronts sentencing submissions next month.
During Friday’s trial, District Court judge Paul Muscat said it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the sportscar driver deliberately accelerated in a dangerous manner, saying he had “difficulty” in determining if a “harshly accelerating” Lamborghini was driven dangerously.
Campbell was driving at 53km/h in a 60km/h zone at the time of the crash and was not driving erratically, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Supercars and stunt driver Luke Youlden, who gave evidence as an expert witness, said the high-powered vehicle must have been in sports mode prior to the fatal crash.
Outside the court following the decision, Sophia’s father Luke said the verdict had “denied justice for our beautiful daughter”.
The family welcomed the Premier’s quick action following the case.
“The Premier was kind enough to call us … and express his support and explain the changes he is proposing to make to the road traffic laws,” they said.
“These laws will make our roads safer. We look forward to seeing the laws introduced in parliament where we hope they will receive support from all parties.”
The heartbroken parents added that while “no changes will bring Sophia back or lessen the pain our family feels… we hope that the much-needed reforms will make drivers more accountable for their behaviour on the roads and reduce the trauma for families.”
Originally published as Driving laws in SA will be overhauled after shock verdict in teen death case
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