Carjacking Laws in New South Wales

A frightening carjacking incident that left a 71-year-old grandmother severely wounded has descended to a grim conclusion after the man who stole the woman’s vehicle died in an extreme car crash shortly after the theft.

It is understood San Antonian woman, Shirlene Hernandez, was in the middle of her usual routine of grabbing a Diet Coke after filling up her tank at a petrol station when she was approached by a thief.

The man immediately struck her in the face and continued to do so several times before snatching the keys from her hands and driving off with her car.

According to reports from local media, while the man managed to quickly escape the scene, it wasn’t long before police discovered the car on the interstate highway.

However, what officers weren’t expecting to see was that the vehicle, in fact, was now totalled.

Inside, they discovered the suspected carjacker’s body, dead.

Grandmother Expresses Sorrow for Carjacker Despite Leaving Her Traumatic Injuries

As a result of the brutal attack, Ms Hernandez was left seriously injured with extensive bruising and discolouration to her face.

Although feeling beat up and sore, she managed to speak to local media about the terrifying affair, responding with sadness over her attacker’s death.

“There’s a lot of people who would say what goes around comes around, karma,” Ms Hernandez said.

“I did not think that. I got really sad because he had died.

“Now, granted he had hurt me, but the Lord saw fit to take him out of his misery.”

Ms Hernandez informed that despite her injuries, she is doing mostly fine.

She said she hopes her story may implore good Samaritans to step forward and help out whenever they see any such disorder unravel.

“I just hope that if this situation happens to anybody else, that somebody will step forward, leap forward, run forward, whatever and help the person that it’s happening to,” the grandmother said.

A resilient woman, Ms Hernandez now refuses to let the crime shape her life as she continues to work while saving to buy a new car.

“I realised – I don’t have a car,” she said, adding that she needs to get to work and appointments.

“I just don’t want to quit working and so I’ve got to somehow get another car and that takes money and stuff.

“I’ve got to figure out what to do.”

Since the attack, Ms Hernandez’s granddaughter, Helen Garcia, has launched a GoFundMe page in the hope to raise money to assist her purchase a new car.

The fundraiser reads, “Hi, my name is Helen, and I am helping my 71-year-old grandma Shirlene. On April 12th, she was carjacked from a Shell station in San Antonio on her way to work. The man who took her car hit her with the door, badly bruising her face.

“The man wrecked her car and totalled it, leaving her without a way to get to work or appointments. Any donation helps get her back on her feet and is greatly appreciated.”

Since launching the page, more than 800 generous donations have poured in, surpassing the initial goal of US$5,000.

In fact, to date, over US$31,000 worth of funds have been raised.

Ms Garcia said her family is “so thankful and in awe for the outpouring of support” they have received in the wake of the attack.

Carjacking Laws in New South Wales

What does Carjacking mean? Carjacking is stealing a motor vehicle or vessel with assault or with an occupant on board.

As denoted by its definition, the wrongdoing falls under the category of stealing.

If you are in NSW, pursuant to section 154C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the penalties you can face for carjacking are determined by the circumstances in which the offence took place.

Specifically, where a person assaults another person with intent to take a motor vehicle or vessel and, without having the consent of the owner or person in lawful possession of it, takes and drives it, or takes it for the purpose of driving it, the maximum penalty you can face is 10 years in jail, with a three-year standard non-parole period.

The same maximum penalty also applies where a person, without having the consent of the owner or person in lawful possession of a motor vehicle or vessel, takes and drives it, or takes it for the purpose of driving it, when a person is in or on it.

However, where any such aforementioned carjacking offence takes place “in circumstances of aggravation”, the maximum penalty increases 14 years in jail.

“Circumstances of aggravation” include any or all of the following:

  • Where the alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons
  • Where the alleged offender is armed with an offensive weapon or instrument
  • Where the alleged offender intentionally or recklessly inflicts actual bodily harm on any person.

In determining the sentence, a Judge will consider a series of factors to assess the severity of the offence.

These can include the damaged caused to the vehicle, any injuries resulting from the incident, violence or threats carried out during the carjacking, and the degree of premeditation to execute the crime.

By Sahar Adatia.

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