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Court told Devonport P-plater Seth Brown drove car 'as if it was a toy' before fatal crash that killed his 16-year-old friend

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Police inspect the red Nissan at the crash scene. Image / 7 Tasmania

A teenager who was “completely sober” but driving “as if his vehicle was a toy” when he crashed and killed his young passenger has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

Seth James Brown, now 20, was 18-years-old and behind the wheel of a 1995 Nissan Navara when he lost control of the vehicle on Port Sorell Road near Devonport Airport on May 9, 2022.


The crash instantly killed 16-year-old Bailey Seabourne and left Brown and his three other passengers, Zavier Bowden, Seth Townsend and Shayla Barker, with various injuries.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Alan Blow said Brown, a P-plater, was driving at speed and doing burnouts and drifts in the minutes before he lost control on a bend and flipped the vehicle three to five times.

Seabourne, whose seatbelt was not working, was ejected from the vehicle along with Townsend, while Barker was dragged from the car. Bowden had to be cut free by emergency services.

The red Nissan involved in the fatal crash. Image / 7 Tasmania

Brown was unconscious for 17 days after the crash and suffered a head injury that left him with no memory of the incident or the events leading up to it.

“It sometimes happens that judges have to sentence motorists for crimes that they do not remember committing. This is one of those cases,” Blow said.

Victim impact statements read to the court detailed how Seabourne’s father went to the scene of the crash and saw its aftermath, leaving him suffering nightmares, panic attacks, disturbed sleep and irritability as a result.


Another family member who identified Seabourne’s body suffers from a similar range of psychological symptoms, Blow noted, even quitting his job that required him to drive past the crash site.

The court heard that Brown suffers from an intellectual disability that would make imprisonment a “substantially more difficult experience for him than for ordinary prisoners”, leading the Judge to impose the “shortest possible non-parole period”.

“This was not a case in which an intoxicated driver caused someone’s death by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Blow said.

“It is a case in which a completely sober 18-year-old drove as if his vehicle was a toy, placing the lives and safety of his passengers and himself at risk for the sake of a few quick thrills.”

Investigators examine the scene of the crash involving the red Nissan. Image / 7 Tasmania

Blow said the sentence needed to strike an appropriate balance and be consistent with other sentences in Tasmania for serious driving crimes.

“No sentence of imprisonment will be able to return the life that has been lost,” Blow said.

Brown was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars for causing death by dangerous driving and will be eligible for parole in September 2025.

He was also disqualified from driving for three years and the car was forfeited to the state.

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