Court Says It Can't Alter Sentence of Drunk Driver Who Left Girl Paralyzed

Victim's parents petition court against plea agreement sentencing Mark Patrick to 600 hours of community service and a fine of only NIS 1,000.

The parents of a Netanya girl who was hit by a drunk driver and left paralyzed for life were told by the High Court of Justice on Wednesday that the driver's light punishment could not be altered because he has already served his sentence.

The parents of Shahar Greenspan - who was hit by Mark Patrick in November 2009 near her home in Netanya - had petitioned the court against the plea agreement that sentenced Patrick to 600 hours of community service and a fine of only NIS 1,000. His driver's license was also suspended for six years.

The plea deal was arranged by the police legal department.

Nehama and Yisrael Greenspan argued that they were never informed by the police of the plea-bargain discussions, and certainly were not informed of the light sentence being offered. In their petition, filed five months ago, the Greenspans demanded that the plea bargain be canceled and that Patrick be punished to the full extent of the law.

Shahar, now 14, was in court for the hearing. It was the first time she and the driver had faced each other in court.

"We hope that something will come out of here that will help save at least one other life in Israel," said Yisrael Greenspan, as he entered the courtroom for the hearing.

But the justices - Asher Dan Grunis, Uzi Vogelman and Esther Hayut - didn't have much good news for the family.

During the hearing, Court President Grunis said that there is an illusion that the High Court of Justice can change things. But since the sentence had already been served in full, the court could do nothing to alter it. Grunis, however, suggested that if both sides would agree, perhaps Patrick's license, which is still suspended, could be revoked for life. Patrick's attorney, Shachar Hassan, expressed his consent.

During the hearing, the Greenspans' attorney, Anat Kaufman, said that a grave injustice had been done to Shahar and her family when such an incredibly lenient plea agreement was formulated that seemed to totally ignore the results of the accident.

In addition, she said, a grave injustice had been done to the public when the State Prosecution decided not to intervene in the plea deal. The State Prosecutor's Office did review the case after an appeal to do so was filed by the Or Yarok road safety group.

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, though he criticized the agreement reached with Patrick as "terribly mistaken," said that there was nothing to be done because the date for appealing the sentence approved by the Petah Tikva Traffic Court had passed.

Hassan, Patrick's attorney, said that for all of the Greenspans' pain, his client was also in pain.

"He's been paying the price for his action every day," said Hassan. "There's no denying that the plea bargain was a lenient one, but on the other hand, the accused has already served his sentence." A final ruling on her parents' petition against the sentence, however, will only be given at a later date.