Man jailed for ‘massive’ injuries to police in crash

Rex Martinich |

David James Nichols has been jailed for driving a ute into a police van, injuring three officers.
David James Nichols has been jailed for driving a ute into a police van, injuring three officers.

A man who ploughed a ute head-on into a police van, leaving three officers with a “massive range of injuries”, has been jailed for at least four years.

David James Nichols, 30, faced Brisbane District Court on Monday via audio link having earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving while speeding and with prior convictions causing grievous bodily harm.

The court was played dashcam footage from the utility vehicle Nichols was driving and from the police van he hit while speeding down the wrong side of a residential road at more than 100km/h in a 60 zone.

Judge Ian Dearden said he was required to view materials that “wake me up a night with the shivers” and the dashcam video would be one of them.

“I involuntarily looked away,” Judge Dearden said.

A male officer was trapped for 30 minutes in the wreckage and spent weeks in intensive care with kidney damage and extensive injuries to his arms and legs.

A female officer suffered injuries to her sternum and another male officer was left concussed with facial injuries.

Nichols had also pleaded guilty to wilful damage, unlawful wounding, driving while disqualified and two counts of serious assault on a corrective services officer.

Crown prosecutor Stephanie Gallagher said Nichols had a “really serious criminal history” involving numerous assaults on nurses, security guards and police officers.

“He has difficulty with people in positions of authority, particularly police,” she said.

Nichols on March 12, 2022 was on parole at Caboolture in southeast Queensland when he stabbed his flatmate three times with a pocket knife before fleeing in a ute and ramming his victim’s parked vehicle.

The marked police van with three officers was responding with lights and sirens to the stabbing when Nichols collided with them just before 3pm.

Ms Gallagher said the officer driving the van tried to take evasive action but was unable to avoid Nichols, who had made no attempt to brake.

The officer most badly injured in the collision had to transfer to a less physically demanding role and was unable to continue serving in the Army Reserves.

After spending six weeks in hospital, Nichols threw urine at two prison guards in what Ms Gallagher called “planned misbehaviour”.

Defence barrister Colin Reid said Nichols had also been grievously injured in the collision and now used crutches.

“It will be a lifelong reminder of his act of stupidity,” he said.

Nichols told the court he wanted to apologise for his actions.

“I wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” he said.

Judge Dearden said Nichols had committed “dreadful and appalling” offences and the police officers were lucky to be alive.

“You have got to find a better way of living your life that is respectful of others and yourself,” Judge Dearden said.

Nichols was sentenced to six years imprisonment and will be eligible to apply for parole in July 2025 due to time already served.