Woman's plea to driver just before fatal fiery crash: Driver jailed

Woman's plea to driver just before fatal fiery crash: Driver jailed

Shortly before a fiery car crash killed a man, another passenger pleaded with the driver to slow down but he just kept saying “I got this”, a Perth court has heard.

Those were the reassuring words Nathan Brian Pati said shortly before he died in a fiery crash caused by his unlicensed mate, who was speeding on a wet road.

David Charles Roimata Haddon, 31, was sentenced this week to seven years behind bars after pleading guilty to aggravated dangerous driving causing Mr Pati’s death and bodily harm to Rhonda Gibson in Sawyers Valley in June 2019.

AFL premiership player Mark LeCras was among those who stopped to try to save Mr Pati’s life.

The WA District Court heard Haddon and Mr Pati had helped Ms Gibson after her car broke down, then Haddon began driving them to Northam, northeast of Perth.

As Haddon continued to speed, Ms Gibson repeatedly asked him to slow down, to which he replied: “I got this. I got this.”

When Ms Gibson turned to look at Mr Pati in the back seat, he told her: “It’s okay. I trust him.”

At one point, Haddon illegally overtook a truck and Ms Gibson was so frightened she shut her eyes, thinking she would not get home safely, the court heard.

As they passed through the Sawyers Valley township, Haddon did a U-turn in the middle of the road, colliding with the median strip, as observed by a truck driver and his teenage daughter.

Haddon patted Ms Gibson’s leg and again told her “I got this”, prompting her to shout: “Are you trying to kill us all?”

He did not respond to her.

As Haddon overtook the truck, Ms Gibson wound her window down and waved for assistance, the court heard.

Shortly after, the truck driver found their vehicle engulfed in flames.

He had to untangle Ms Gibson’s seatbelt to free her, while Haddon stepped out of the vehicle on his own.

Mr LeCras had seen the car “fly” into the bush, so he stopped to call emergency services, the court heard.

The former West Coast Eagles player also unsuccessfully tried to open the rear passenger door.

Another person who stopped to help said Haddon tried to go back to the car and shouted: “My friend is still in the car! I need to get back there!”

Haddon later told police he lost control of the car and overcorrected.

In his police interview, Haddon said: “You know, I’ve been wracking myself in jail, trying to find ways to tell the family that I’m sorry for what happened to their son.”

The court heard he had written letters for Mr Pati’s family and Ms Gibson.

Judge Gary Massey accepted Haddon was remorseful, but said his dangerous driving was “persistent and sustained”.

Referring to the victim impact statements from Mr Pati’s family, Judge Massey said: “He was much loved and his death has left a hole in their lives, which can never be remedied.”

Addressing the family in court directly, Judge Massey said: “I am very sorry for your loss ... I can only imagine the trauma and the grief that this has caused you.”

Haddon must serve at least five years behind bars before he can be eligible for parole.