The family of a young man who was killed in a head-on crash in Canberra is calling for tougher measures to deal with people who steal cars and drive recklessly, sometimes with tragic consequences.
- In the wake of Matthew McLuckie’s death, his father has started a campaign calling for the ACT’s laws strengthened
- The ACT government says it will await the findings of a police investigation before deciding whether to re-examine legislation
- The Australian Federal Police Association says the ACT’s laws around reckless driving are “weak”
Matthew McLuckie, 20, had been travelling home from his job at the Canberra Airport when another car, allegedly travelling at high speeds on the wrong side of the road, collided with his car.
Police are still searching for the driver of a third car they believe was also involved in the incident.
Matthew’s father, Tom McLuckie, said his son had been filled with “dreams and hopes” for his future when he was killed on May 19 in the crash on Hindmarsh Drive.
He said Matthew had been studying at the Australian National University for a degree in computing and had been saving up to purchase his first home.
“He was saving up to buy a house, he was planning to build a strength-building regime, just like any normal young man with all these hopes, dreams, plans and they’re just robbed of him on that evening.”
Warning: This story contains confronting images.
‘This needs to stop’
Now, Mr McLuckie is campaigning for change, including calling for stronger penalties for street racing, in the wake of his son’s death.
He said the consensus within ACT police and the justice system was that Matthew’s death was “an accident waiting to happen.”
“And the consensus is that this is not going to be the last death of this sort this year,” he said.
Mr McLuckie said he wanted to see higher minimum mandatory sentencing for those guilty of dangerous driving, as well as a tougher stance on parole for offenders.
“People are getting bail, good behaviour bonds, parole, and the ability to re-offend,” he said.
Mr McLuckie has started a social media campaign, titled ACTnowforsaferroads, and will be petitioning the ACT Legislative Assembly to investigate whether legislation could be strengthened, with the goal to prevent further deaths like his son’s.
“Since our devastating loss, we have been told this was ‘an accident waiting to happen’ as there is a group of people in the ACT who get their kicks out of baiting police, stealing cars, racing and driving on the wrong side of the road, and are often drug and alcohol-impaired, among other crimes,” he wrote online.
“This needs to stop.”
In a statement, the ACT Legislative Assembly issued its condolences to the McLuckie family and said it was awaiting the results of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Matthew’s death.
“The government continues to await the outcome of police investigations into what occurred,” the statement said.
“In any case, dangerous driving is unacceptable.
Police ‘sick and tired’ of capturing same offender ‘over and over again’
Alex Caruana of the Australian Federal Police Association said he agreed with Mr McLuckie that the ACT’s laws needed to be strengthened, including ensuring offenders faced sentencing rather than simply a penalty for reckless driving.
“We really hope that the review that is going to be conducted is going to be a robust review and they don’t wait for some incident to occur before they change the legislation.”
He said it was frustrating to see the same people caught multiple times for the same offences, instead of seeing them in court.
He said under current laws, police officers also did not have the same powers as their NSW counterparts to seize vehicles, which was contributing to the problem.
“We would like to see the introduction of, when someone is caught speeding or hooning or antisocial behaviour in that sense, that the police have the power to seize that car immediately,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there is a perception out there amongst criminals that this government is soft on crime, and we need to be able to take a tougher stance on things like this so that things don’t happen like what happened to the McLuckie family again.”
ACT Policing said it had laid more than 1,100 charges for serious driving offences in the past two and a half years.