Bunbury man found not guilty of manslaughter

After the trial: Paul Ramon Gelmi (centre) was found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death in the Bunbury Supreme Court. Photo: Thomas Munday.
After the trial: Paul Ramon Gelmi (centre) was found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death in the Bunbury Supreme Court. Photo: Thomas Munday.

A jury has found Paul Ramon Gelmi, 47, not guilty of manslaughter over the death of 10-year-old Haylee Michelle Ross in 2016.

However, Gelmi was found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death. 

During the five-day trial in the Bunbury Supreme Court, the court heard Gelmi and his friends had been drinking on October 23, 2016.

Haylee’s father and two others were riding around Gelmi’s farmland property in Waterloo. 

After Haylee pleaded Gelmi to take her to them, he decided to ride his 250cc Yamaha trail bike with Haylee on board as a pillion passenger. 

The pair travelled up the driveway before heading out onto Clifton Road, with Gelmi travelling up the road before deciding to turn back. 

Gelmi then misjudged a bend before losing control and riding into a ditch. 

The incident saw Haylee flip off of the bike and suffer fatal head injuries.

State prosecutor Brett Tooker put forward the case that Gelmi’s decisions and actions had led to Haylee’s death. 

He said Gelmi’s decision to ride the motorcycle with her as a pillion passenger, without having her wear a helmet, was significant to the incident. 

The court heard Gelmi had a blood alcohol reading of 0.136 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – two-and-a-half times the legal limit – at the time. 

Tooker said Gelmi’s blood alcohol reading would have greatly increased his chances of causing risks. 

The prosecution also stated Gelmi’s choice to ride on the road exposed Haylee to new dangers such as other road users, increased speeds, and different terrain to that of the farm. 

During his closing statement, he said Gelmi’s conduct led to Haylee’s death and that her death, due to the circumstances, was reasonably foreseeable. 

He also claimed Gelmi’s lack of care and responsibility constituted criminal negligence. 

During her closing statement, defence barrister Linda Black said Gelmi had committed a “terrible” act and “would have to live with it for the rest of his life”. 

In relation to the specific charges, she said no reasonable person would see Haylee’s death as having been “reasonably foreseeable”. 

She said her client “does not need one ounce of punishment beyond what has already happened”. 

On August 10, the jury took two-and-a-half hours to reach a verdict. 

Justice Lindy Jenkins informed Gelmi that his bail was to be renewed on the same terms, including a $5000 personal undertaking and a $5000 surety. 

He will be required to reside at his Clifton Road address every night. 

Gelmi has been remanded to appear in the Bunbury Supreme Court for sentencing on Friday, August 24.

Gelmi, his family, and Haylee’s family were in court when the verdict was read out. 

Outside court, Haylee’s uncle Jake Turanga said: “Thank you to everyone out there who tried to help Hayley. It means a lot to our family.

“We hope this sends the message out to everyone that drink driving is not okay.” 

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