Dangerous driving, imprisonment and the purposes of sentencing

On the 2nd of March 2019, John Pagakis drove his car over 210kms/hour. When leaving the M2 at Baulkham Hills, Mr Pagakis lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an SUV that was stopped at a red light, killing 12-year-old Aditya Sharma and causing the victim’s mother, Mrs Poona Sharma, permanent brain damage. Mrs Sharma was told the news of her son’s death when she woke up from a coma days after the incident.

Mr Pagakis crashed into 5 other cars, injuring multiple people. The Sharmas were on their way to a surprise birthday dinner the victim had planned for his younger sister, at Criniti’s in Darling Harbour. As the 12-year-old died in the vehicle, Mr Pagakis elected to leave the scene and was caught on CCTV walking to a petrol station to call his brother to collect him. The police traced Mr Pagakis to his mother’s residence and found him sleeping in a bedroom at 3 in the morning. John Pagakis’s mother said “I’m not saying this child deserved to be hurt, but these sorts of accidents happen every day. People die on the road all the time”.

His Sentence

Mr Pagakis pleaded guilty to dangerous driving resulting in death, leaving the scene and failing to offer assistance. This month Judge Craigie of the District Court of NSW sentenced Mr Pagakis to imprisonment for a term of 9 years, with a non-parole period of 6 years and 9 months. This will not be the first time Mr Pagakis has been to prison, having done time for offences including the supply of an illicit substance and assault.


Section 5 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 states: “A court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, having considered all possible alternatives, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate”. Imprisonment is literally an option of last resort.

Purposes of Sentencing

It is worthwhile to remember there are a number of purposes for which a court may sentence a criminal offender. These purposes are listed in Section 3A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act and include:

  • to ensure that the offender is adequately punished for the offence,
  • to prevent crime by deterring the offender and other persons from committing similar offences,
  • to protect the community from the offender,
  • to promote the rehabilitation of the offender,
  • to make the offender accountable for their actions,
  • to denounce the conduct of the offender,
  • to recognise the harm done to the victim of the crime and the community.

Now immediately, you may think, some of those objectives conflict. Punishing an offender with the maximum penalty possible (imprisonment) for the longest term possible (life) may hardly serve to effectively rehabilitate that person. Mr Pagakis has been to prison before, yet still broke the law that cost an innocent young boy his life.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, please contact Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation.


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