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Bond for SA man over beach crash

A man who killed his partner in a crash was deliberately fishtailing his vehicle down a South Australian beach before losing control and rolling several times.

Paige Prentice, 22, was thrown from the car and suffered severe injuries in the crash near Kingston, in the state's southeast, in December 2019. She died in hospital four days later.

Matthew Sean Emerson pleaded guilty to causing her death by dangerous driving.

Sentencing the 30-year-old in the District Court on Wednesday, Judge Ian Press said the pair had been camping in the Coorong and were driving up the beach singing and laughing when the crash occurred.

"As you drove down the beach you were deliberately swerving to fishtail your rear wheels while driving between 60 and 70 km/h," the judge told Emerson.
"Tyre marks in the sand indicate you were doing this for at least 300 metres.
"As a result of your manner of driving it appears a tyre dug into the sand and in the context of you overcorrecting, the vehicle rolled a number of times."

Judge Press said Emerson was extremely remorseful over the incident and had suffered significant mental health issues which left him homeless at one stage. But he said the man's driving was highly irresponsible.

"Whilst the period of time over which you drove dangerously was not long, it did involve repeated acts of swerving as you drove down the beach," he said.

The judge imposed a head sentence of just over three years and a non-parole period of two years and six months. He suspended both those terms, placing Emerson on a three-year good-behaviour bond while also banning him from driving for 10 years.

Judge Press said it was important for Emerson and Ms Prentice's family to know that the length of the sentence could never represent the worth of her life, its potential or the pain her family now felt.


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