TWO-YEAR-OLD Manon Yhuel loves the fig trees at Beare Park. She was there one Sunday morning, beside The Esplanade at Rushcutters Bay, when a drunk driver, Marek Krisanda, mounted the kerb in a black Nissan and did a doughnut around the tree where she had been playing.”I felt horrified,” her mother, Laura Friezer, told Downing Centre Local Court yesterday. ”If I hadn’t managed to grab Manon she could have been killed.”Mr Krisanda, 26, had a blood alcohol level of .204 and pleaded guilty to high-range drink driving over the incident on March 22 this year. But he defended a dangerous driving charge, arguing the park where he was driving was not ”a road or road related area” as defined in the relevant legislation.In evidence to the court, Ms Friezer said she took Manon to the park, watching from the nearby playground as the toddler played in the roots of a Moreton Bay fig. She saw the Nissan between two figs and thought it was just a bad park, not realising there was a man in the driver’s seat. Then a passerby warned her: ”I think you better go get your child, that guy is off his head.”Ms Friezer scooped Manon up when the Nissan started moving and hid behind the tree roots.The car’s wheels spun out of control as it did a doughnut around the tree where they were sheltering.”I shouted, ‘Baby, baby, baby’ to warn the driver we were near him … but he kept wheel spinning and driving,” Ms Friezer said. ”The vehicle got stuck about one metre from us. It came so close. The driver kept revving the engine.”Ms Friezer called the police as people tried to dislodge the car from the tree roots.Police charged Mr Krisanda with dangerous driving under the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act. But his defence barrister, Paul Bolster, argued that the prosecution case failed because his client was not driving on a road-related area as specified in the act.Defined road-related areas include an area dividing a road, a shoulder, a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road, or an area ”for driving, riding or parking vehicles”.An area designated for use by cyclists or animals also qualifies, but Mr Bolster said it could not apply because the figs were near a playground and the Companion Animals Act bans dogs from going within 10 metres of children’s play areas.However, the magistrate Susan McIntyre found the dangerous driving offence proven, accepting prosecution submissions that the area was a nature strip. She said she did not make the finding easily, but ”really it’s a question of common sense”.Mr Krisanda apologised to Ms Friezer after the hearing. He will face sentencing in December.■ A driver whose blood alcohollevel was about six times the legal limit when she crashed into another car, killing a female passenger, has been found guilty of manslaughter. At her District Court trial, Penelope Woodbridge claimed she did not know what she was doing when she drove. But jurors rejected her defence, convicting her over the death of Evette Haddad and the serious injuries she caused the driver, Maher Haddad, in July 2007.
Nanjing Night Net

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