May 8th, 2015
A jet ski driver who was speeding in an exclusion zone off Port Melbourne when he struck and killed a swimmer was “fanging” the machine, a witness told police.
The County Court also heard on Friday that other witnesses described Ivan Maqi as “hooning” and “show boating” before he hit Robert Brewster.
Prosecutor Gary Hevey told the court that a witness said Maqi, who was carrying a passenger, “pretty much” had the Seadoo jetski at “full throttle” as he did spins and went from side to side.
Mr Hevey said that just before 6pm on February 24, 2012, Mr Brewster, 51,was on a regular swim in a “swimming only” zone between Lagoon and Kerford Piers when he was struck and suffered head injuries.
Maqi, a house painter, pleaded guilty before Judge Sandra Davis to a charge of culpable driving, the first time in Victoria such a charge has been admitted that involved a water craft.
Victim impact statements by Mr Brewster’s partner, his two daughters, estranged wife and his father were read aloud by Mr Hevey.
Ivan Maqi is charged with killing a man while riding a jet ski. Photo: Joe Armao
His partner, Natalie Kurban ,wrote that “no words could possibly describe the impact” of his death on her and his family.
Maqi’s barrister, Ian Crisp, told the court his client, who has no prior or subsequent convictions, acknowledged the trauma and distress for Mr Brewster’s family and friends.
Mr Crisp asked Ms Davis to also accept that Maqi’s guilty plea indicated his sorrow and remorse and that he had berated himself on the beach after the collision when witnesses saw him punching the sand over and over.
Maqi was heard to repeatedly say “stupid, stupid”, that he was being “such a dick head” and a “dudus”.
Mr Hevey said Maqi struck Mr Brewster in an area excluded to vessels such as the Seadoo or, if relevant, where rules provided that vessels present were not to exceed a speed of about nine kilometres an hour.
One witness estimated Maqi’s speed at about 70 kilometres an hour and another at about 50 kilometres an hour.
Mr Hevey said Maqi, then 21, had operated the machine in a highly inappropriate and negligent manner and at a “very high speed”.
Sixteen days before the collision, he had completed an accredited recreational boat and personal water craft assessment course and had finished an examination to confirm he had an “adequate understanding” of the rules relevant to a Seadoo.
Mr Hevey said that at all times Mr Brewster, a manager with the tax office, was swimming in the “swimming only” or “no boating zone”.
One witness said she saw a jet ski “zooming dangerously close to the pier” and “increased their speed ridiculously close to both sides of the pier and even closer to the beach where other people were swimming…”
Mr Hevey said the prosecution contended that Maqi had operated the Seadoo in a manner that “failed unjustifiably and to a gross degree” to the standard of care a reasonable person would have observed.
Maqi, now 24, who was supported in court on Friday by his parents, sister and brother and friends, accepted the contents of the victim impact statements, said Mr Crisp.
“This terrible experience that he caused the death of an another human being will definitely stay with him for the rest of his life,” Mr Crisp submitted, and added that Maqi “continues to have grave difficulties coming to terms with that”.
There was “absolutely no excuse”, he said, for him not having not kept a proper look-out and being in the restricted zone and speeding, but argued that a non-immediate jail term was within the sentencing range.
Mr Hevey submitted that the type of offence required immediate imprisonment, and argued that “this was not simply an accident”, because Mr Bewster died “needlessly” and “he did so as a result of the gross negligence of this accused in the way he rode this particular jet ski”.
Maqi was assessed for a community corrections order, which found he was suitable, Mr Crisp said Maqi had been found a low risk of offending and was willing to comply with such an order.
In response, Mr Hevey accepted that jail was always a “last resort choice”, that Maqi was a “youthful offender”, was at the lower end of the scale of intellectual capacity and had good prospects of rehabilitation.
But Mr Hevey said the offending was not a “momentary lapse”, onlookers had warned Maqi about his conduct before the collision and that the “vast majority” of culpable driving offenders were jailed immediately with suspended sentences “few and far between”.
Judge Davis extended Maqi’s bail for sentencing on May 22.
– Steve Butcher