David McCormack.
David McCormack. Tweed Daily News

10 years for Hwy death crash

CLASPING rosary beads tightly in one hand, a tearful Mark Bombardieri yesterday apologised in Lismore District to the family of dead police officer David McCormack after his reckless high-speed driving on the Pacific Highway caused the off-duty detective to fatally crash head-on into an oncoming truck at Halfway Creek.

“I'm praying for forgiveness from God. I hope you will see in your hearts to one day forgive me,” Bombardieri said to the children and parents of Mr McCormack seated together in the public gallery.

Bombardieri was yesterday described as 'psychologically disturbed' by Judge James Black, who ordered him to serve 6 1/2 years of a 10 year sentence in custody, with the remainder to be served by way of rehabilitation of his drug and mental health issues under strict supervision of Probation and Parole officers. With time already served, the real estate salesman will be eligible for release on February 11, 2014.

Bombardieri, 22, from the Gold Coast, pleaded guilty to aggravated driving causing the death of Mr McCormack while escaping a police pursuit at Halfway Creek on August 12, 2007. He was a suspended driver at the time and should not have been driving.

Police pursued his high-powered white BMW 5-series sedan along the Pacific Highway after other motorists along his route south phoned in to complain about his dangerous driving. His sports car hit speeds in excess of 150km/h after he decided that morning to drive back to Adelaide because he was 'homesick'.

At Maclean, he drove off without paying for $100 worth of fuel, leaving his Visa credit card at the petrol station.

Defence counsel Richard Jankowski said it had been an 'impulsive' decision by his client to drive to Adelaide and submitted medical evidence suggesting Bombardieri had a mental disorder with references to paranoid delusions, narcissist personality traits, and bipolar, with one psychiatrist suggesting it may be a result of drug abuse.

Mr Jankowski said there had been nothing in Bombardieri's urine and toxicology report to suggest he was under the influence of any drugs on the day of the police pursuit and accident -'(his behaviour) smacks of a person not thinking and not well'.

The Crown prosecutor described the offence as 'a flagrant abandonment of responsibility' that was highly dangerous with excessive and dangerous speeds south from Byron Bay.

Judge Black found Bombardieri's moral culpability was very high, showing 'a total disregard for the safety of anyone else on the highway' over a long distance.

“There is a wealth of evidence suggesting he is psychologically disturbed, I'm clear about that.”

He also disqualified Bombardieri from driving until August 11, 2015.

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