Mar 07, 2024

85-year-old priest leaves older parishioner needing plastic surgery in car accident

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Mr Varvaris’ defence said the Father’s actions were unintentional and that he would live with guilt for the rest of his life. [Source: The Daily Telegraph - Ashleigh Tullis]

A NSW priest has pleaded guilty to negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm after he accidentally struck an 87-year-old widowed parishioner with his car in 2022.

it was reported Father John Varvaris, 85, appeared in Sutherland Local Court on Tuesday to plead guilty to the charges surrounding the “unfortunate accident” that saw the priest cause severe injuries to the woman whom he met through the church.

Having returned the widow to her San Souci home after praying with her at her late husband’s grave on September 24, 2022, court documents state the woman was outside his car when the priest mistakenly accelerated forward instead of reversing, forcing the woman to fall face-first into a brick fence.

The woman was taken to St George Hospital and treated for a brain bleed, a face laceration which caused a de-gloving of the skin, broken teeth, eye injuries and an ankle and foot fracture. Her doctor told police she needed plastic surgery to help heal the injury and that she had been unable to walk unassisted since the incident. 

The priest, who has no criminal history and has been previously recognised for his commitment to his faith and community for over 50 years, was proven to not be under the influence of alcohol at the time and his car was shown to have no mechanical defects. 

Mr Varvaris’ defence said the Father’s actions were unintentional and that he would live with guilt for the rest of his life. 

The court heard Mr Varvaris’ children had also called for their father to have a restriction placed on his licence to not travel more than 15km per day at the time due to his prolific work and lack of rest breaks. 

His licence was said to have been cancelled on medical grounds in December 2022.

He will return to court for sentencing on April 2.

Debates stirred again last month regarding older drivers as radio jocks discussed mandating the display of “S Plates” for older drivers to notify other drivers on the road, with many listeners outraged by the idea. 

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