Boat driver spared jail over man's death

·3-min read

Geunhee Park's widow can still picture paramedics trying to revive him on a Victorian pier after he was struck by a boat while diving three years ago.

She was doing housework when police knocked on her door to inform her Mr Park had died and she has been in a "living nightmare" ever since, she told Melbourne's County Court on Monday.

Boat driver Nicholas Mouat, 44, has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Park, 29.

Mr Park and his friend were diving for fish near Frankston Pier on May 5, 2019, when Mouat drove his boat over their dive flags and orange buoys, the court heard.

Three nearby fishermen saw Mouat's vessel approaching the two divers, doing about five to eight knots.

"He's going to run over these divers," one of the men said, before: "F***ing hell he has, he's gone right over across the top of them."

Mouat briefly stopped his boat and raised his arms to Park's friend, in an effort to say sorry, before driving away.

His friend found Mr Park lying unconscious on the bottom of the ocean. He pulled Mr Park from the water and put him on the pier.

Police and paramedics arrived and Mr Park was declared dead, with an autopsy finding he died from head injuries that could have been caused by a boat propeller.

Mr Park's wife said she struggled to contact his family, who live in Korea, to inform them of his death.

His family initially did not believe he had been killed and she had to contact the Korean consulate to help.

"She said this was the most distressing thing she had been through in her entire life," Judge Douglas Trapnell said, reading her statement to court.

"She described the days, weeks, months and years following this incident as being a living nightmare."

His family flew to Australia two days after Mr Park's death and his wife took them to see his body.

His sister screamed, cried and begged for Mr Park to wake up. She then took her own life in 2020 and left a note saying she was not coping with her brother's death.

His father said Mr Park's death was "a feeling as if the sky had collapsed in on him".

Mouat said he "instantly felt sick" after hearing about Mr Park's death on the news and handed himself in to police.

Prosecutors alleged Mouat was inattentive for at least 58 seconds and claimed the dive buoys were clearly visible to him, when he hit Mr Park with his boat.

However, Judge Trapnell said he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt this was the case.

"I cannot exclude the possibility the dive buoys were momentarily obscured from view, owing to the chop on the water created by the weather conditions," he told the court.

He found the offending was at the lower-end and handed Mouat a five-year community corrections order.

Mouat was convicted and fined $10,000 and must complete 600 hours of community work.

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