The family of 51-year-old Ian Seibel who was killed after being hit by Manpreet Singh Brar, then 33-year-old, in Brisbane have questioned the punishment handed by the court.
Ian Seibel’s son Aaron Seibel told media outside the court that the family was disappointed by the judgment. He added:
“I can’t put it into words how disappointed I am. A man’s life is worth 20 months — it’s ridiculous.”
As per reports, Manpreet Singh Brar pleaded guilty in the District Court “to one count each of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and driving without a licence.”
The court of Judge Katherine McGinness was told that Manpreet Singh Brar is an Indian national residing in Australia on a partner visa. He had been driving unlicensed since 2016 and continued to do so after the crash which was a significant breach of his bail conditions.
Further, the court was told that Manpreet Singh Brar has a traffic history dating back several years which included multiple counts of speeding. In 2021, after the accident, Manpreet Singh Brar was pulled over while driving. The police said that Manpreet Singh Brar claimed to be doing food deliveries and at first gave a false name and then said he did not know his licence was suspended.
Crown prosecutor Chris Cook told the court tests also determined Brar had a low level of cocaine and a high level of cough medicine in his system. Although, the Crown prosecutor Cook didn’t allege that Manpreet Singh Brar was adversely affected by the drugs at the time. He said:
“He was fatigued having used those drugs earlier. He shouldn’t have been on the road that day.”
The court was told that Ian Seibel was crossing an intersection in Kallangur with his wife, Paula, and their dog in November 2020, when they were hit by Manpreet Singh Brar’s car which was being driven 25km/h over the speed limit (travelling at 85km/h in a 60km/h zone).
The court saw dashcam footage that showed Manpreet Singh Brar speeding through a red light, colliding into the side of another vehicle that moved into the intersection after the light turned green and finally slamming into the couple.
While Ian Seibel sustained extensive head injuries and died in hospital several days later, Maria Garcia who was driving the second car was critically injured. The court was told that she too “likely would have died” without surgery.
Crown prosecutor Cook told the court that Ian Seibel was a “much loved” husband, father, son, and friend. He added:
“Mr Brar has caused his unnecessary and untimely death through his actions that day.”
Paula Seibel in a statement provided to the court described Ian Seibel as her “best friend” and “better half.” She said:
“I feel like I am less than a whole person now that I don’t have him by my side. I am beyond angry that I have not had the opportunity to spend the rest of my life with this kind, loving, gentle giant.”
The couple had been planning a special trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Paula Seibel urged the judge to apply the maximum penalty to Manpreet Singh Brar. She pleaded:
“I hope that my voice will not go unacknowledged and that lan will not be victimised once again. Our society is crying out for harsher penalties… Where is the incentive to stop committing crimes when a mere slap on the wrist is the only punishment received?”
Judge Katherine McGinness acknowledged the “enduring heartache” Ian Seibel’s family would suffer but said there were sentencing considerations she had to make under Queensland legislation. She said:
“”No sentence I impose can turn back time or can alleviate in any way the profound pain and enduring heartache that Ms Seibel or Ms Garcia or family and friends will continue to suffer.”
Judge McGinness, keeping into account the guilty plea, sentenced Brar to five years in prison wholly suspended after 20 months.
Since Manpreet Singh Brar is not an Australian citizen, he would be deported to India upon his release from prison thus leaving behind his wife and two children.