The Law and Penalties for Throwing Rocks or Other Objects at Vehicles or Vessels in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

It was a lucky escape for truck driver Andrew Martin who just about cheated death after three teenagers pelted a 12-kilogram rock from an overpass onto a highway in Melbourne’s west on Sunday, narrowly missing him.

On the afternoon of 25 November, Mr Martin was driving his truck along the Western Highway, which was transporting foam. He was travelling at 100km/h and at about 2:20pm, he noticed a few youths standing on the pedestrian overpass near the Melton exit pegging stones.

In what could only be described as a sickening attack, it is reported that the teenagers mercilessly threw down the enormous rock, which Mr Martin characterised as the size of a melon, forcing the 28-year-old to rapidly swerve on the busy highway before pulling over to the emergency lane.

It is reported that the boys hurled two large rocks at the truck driver, with dashcam footage capturing the horrifying moment of impact.

While the Melbourne man was fortunately able to avoid an accident, his windscreen was left shattered.

He also managed to luckily escape without serious injury, leaving the police dubbing him a “very lucky man” who could have easily died in the incident.

Police are now hunting those responsible believed to be aged between 12 and 16. They will face a series of charges including reckless conduct endangering life.

“Loud bang, crash”: Truck Driver Describes the Ill-Fated Moment Rock Hit Windshield

Speaking of his luck in walking away uninjured, Mr Martin described the moment of realisation that he could see a rock coming.

“I knew what their intention was, and I couldn’t believe it,” Mr Martin, who has been driving trucks for 12 months, said.

“I sort of got to that stage and realised what was going to happen … then there was a loud bang followed by a crash,” he said.

The driver said, that the rock hit the lower part of the windscreen, so he could still see past it.

“I was pretty lucky considering it didn’t go in the driver’s side … it could’ve been another story,” the driver said.

“It could’ve gone in my face or chest … or possibly killed me.”

In the face of the distressing ordeal, Mr Martin still managed to jump out of his truck and ran across three lanes of the traffic-filled freeway trying to chase the boys.

“I pulled up and the adrenaline kicked in and I thought bugger it, I want to catch them, so I ran across the three lanes of the freeway,” Mr Martin said.

Unfortunately, the teenagers got away.

“Incredibly Dangerous”: Detective Sergeant Ashley Ryan Warns Throwing Rocks Likely to Cause Accidents

Following the petrifying incident, Detective Sergeant Ashely Ryan warned of the serious dangers of launching rocks at drivers.

“It’s incredibly dangerous. The rock itself is incredibly heavy,” Detective Ryan said.

“It can cause serious injury, if not death. The driver is very lucky he wasn’t injured.”

He said the likelihood of the incident causing an accident was very high.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin described that he was “sprayed with shrapnel” and said the giant stone could have “easily got another car and caused serious damage or even killed someone.”

He also said he would like the three offenders, who bolted to nearby residential areas, confess to their wrongdoing.

“I’d like to see their time in court, and fess up to what they’ve done and realise the consequences and severity of putting people’s lives at risk,” Mr Martin said.

The three teenagers have not been caught. They are believed to be of Caucasian appearance.

The investigation continues.

A Caution to Children: Pelting Rocks at Vehicles “Akin to Firing a Gun”

In February this year, a similar incident took place when three teenage boys hurled rocks at cars from the Southern Expressway in Adelaide, leaving two vehicles damaged. Meanwhile, a total of four cars had rocks or bottles launched at them from the overpass.

The offenders were charged for throwing objects at vehicles and property damage.

Only weeks later in March, in what was another spate of horrifying incidents, at least three motorists narrowly avoided injury after their cars were hit by stones from the Southern Expressway.

One female driver had a rock smash the side of her car, while the windscreen of another was broken with the rock throwers striking again 30 minutes later.

Chief Inspector Matt Nairn alerted that pelting rocks at cars was “akin to firing a gun” and that teenagers do not realise what could happen if they embarked on such stupid behaviour.

“The consequences of their actions cannot be highlighted enough,” Mr Nairn said.

“Throwing objects at cars travelling at 100km/h could have dire consequences. It could lead to death serious injury and a multiple vehicle collision.”

He also warned that in throwing rocks, there is potential to kill or recklessly cause grievous bodily harm or wounding.

Understanding the Offence of Throwing Rocks at Vehicles

In NSW, it is an offence to throw rocks at vehicles and vessels. It is also an offence to throw other objects at vehicles.

A person can be charged with the offence of throwing rocks and other objects at vehicles or vessels if they drop or heave a rock or other object in the path of a vehicle or vessel.

The vehicle or vessel must be occupied by a person and must be on the road, railway or waters.

The action must also put the driver or any other person’s safety at risk. It also does not matter if the vehicle was moving at the time of throwing the object, or whether or not the person was aware that their conduct would pose a risk to the other person’s safety.

All too often, this charge occurs in situations where people hurl rocks at vehicles from overpasses on freeways due to the greater danger that this causes to drivers from such high heights.

Although it may seem like a minor offence, throwing rocks or objects at vehicles is still handled seriously by the courts and could potentially land a long jail sentence.

The Law on Throwing Rocks and Other Objects at Vehicles and Vessels in NSW

Anyone found guilty of throwing rocks and other objects at a vehicle or vessel in NSW will face a penalty of up to 5-years imprisonment under section 49A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

To be guilty of this offence, the police must first prove each of the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You threw or dropped an object on or towards a vehicle (or vessel) that was on a road (or railway or navigable waters); and
  2. You intentionally threw or dropped the object; and
  3. There was a person in the vehicle (or vessel) at the time; and
  4. This conduct is considered by the courts to risk the safety of a person.

It is not necessary for police to prove that the alleged object actually hit the vehicle (or vessel).

This offence applies regardless of whether the vehicle (or vessel) was moving or stationary at the time of throwing or dropping the object on or towards it.

If the above 4 elements of this offence are proven, you will be guilty even if there is no evidence to show that you were aware that you risked the safety of any person(s) by throwing or dropping the object on or towards a vehicle (or vessel).

Vehicle includes a motor vehicle, bicycle, train, tram or a vehicle drawn by an animal or an animal ridden by a person.

Throwing a rock or object causing damage to someone else’s vehicle or other property is also referred to as intentionally or recklessly damaging property pursuant to section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It attracts heavy penalties ranging from 5-years to 12-years imprisonment.

You will be found not guilty if any of the following defences to a charge of throwing an object at a vehicle apply to you:

  1. You acted under duress or necessity.
  2. No one was in the vehicle or vessel at the time of the alleged conduct.
  3. You acted in self-defence to protect yourself or another person, or to protect your property from being damaged.
  4. You were so intoxicated that you could not have formed the requisite intention to throw or drop the alleged object on or towards the vehicle (or vessel).
  5. Mental illness defence: Where your state of mind was such that due to your mental condition or illness you were incapable of forming the intention to throw or drop the object on or towards the vehicle (or vessel).

 

Have any questions arising from this blog?

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