SAD TRAGEDY: CQUniversity lecturer Dr Phillip Donaldson died in the crash at the Hummock.
SAD TRAGEDY: CQUniversity lecturer Dr Phillip Donaldson died in the crash at the Hummock.

Drink driver jailed over death of loved CQU professor

THE court nightmare will finally end for Dr Phillip Donaldson's family with his killer behind bars for drink driving causing death.

Adam James Fromm, 26, was sentenced in Bundaberg District Court yesterday to six years imprisonment with parole eligibility after two-and-a-half years for dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

He was also convicted for failing to appear, driving a vehicle while over the middle alcohol limit but not the high alcohol limit and breaching a bail condition.

Crown Prosecutor Steven Dickson said Dr Donaldson was driving home on Hummock Rd and was about to turn left onto Windermere Rd when his car was struck.

"At that time the defendant approached from the opposite direction, he drove straight through the intersection without stopping and at that stage had veered to the right-hand side of the road and collided with Dr Donaldson's vehicle," Mr Dickson said.

"The police found no evidence the defendant had braked or attempted to swerve to avoid collision."

Mr Dickson said police smelt alcohol on Fromm's breath and a roadside breath test showed a reading of 0.132. Ninety minutes later, when a blood test was done, his reading had increased to 0.139.


Mr Dickson explained the difficulty in trying to locate Fromm despite nationwide inquires at one stage until police found him working on a farm in NSW.

Mr Dickson said in Dr Donaldson's fiance's statement she wrote of a profound sense of loss and anxiety when hearing emergency sirens and helicopters from her time sitting bedside with the deceased in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

"She also speaks of a conversation she had with the defendant at a different court hearing where the defendant stated to her Dr Donaldson got in his way and he wouldn't be going to jail," he said.

In Dr Donaldson's sister's impact statement, Mr Dickson said she wrote about the profound effect it had on her family and the difficulty in deciding to turn his life support off.

Defence barrister Tony Glynn said Fromm had a troubling childhood with his mother abandoning him.

Mr Glynn said Fromm was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and was estranged from his father when he formed a relationship with a girl outside the religion which resulted in bullying, depression and anxiety.

He said Fromm showed remorse for the victim in initial police interviews and was complying with court direction until he ran out of funds for a lawyer and fled.

The court heard Fromm had worked on a farm on multiple occasions and the farm owners said in a letter they had seen him become less depressed and more accountable over time.

The owners, who appeared in court, paid for Fromm's legal representation and promised him a job upon his release.


Mr Glynn said a psychiatrist viewed Fromm and submitted he had alcohol dependency and marijuana dependency and recurring thoughts of suicide from a young age.

When sentencing Judge Vicki Loury said she took into account Fromm's troubling past and the impact of the crime.

"Dr Donaldson was a vibrant, accomplished, contributing member of our society," Judge Loury said.

"His sister has described being exhausted by the brief and the lengthy court process, a consequence in your actions of running away.

"His brother and sister had to convince their parents to let him go after 21 days on life support.

"His sister says, 'it was left to us, his family, the ones who loved him the most to make the decision to end his life,' but it wasn't their decision it was your conduct that ended his life, you are wholly responsible for killing him."

Judge Loury highlighted the importance of general deterrence when sentencing Fromm to six years imprisonment with eligibility for parole after two-and-a-half years for dangerous driving causing death.

He was convicted and not further punished for the three remaining charges and disqualified from holding a driver's licence for five years.

Fromm's pre-sentence custody of 207 days was taken as time served.

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