Teen Sentenced For Killing ‘Popular Priest’

A family broke down in the courtroom as their son and brother was taken away in handcuffs, sentenced to three years behind bars for mowing down a priest in his car.

Having just seen her 19-year-old son for last time as a free man, Petar Radinovic’s mother could barely summon words.

“We’re sorry,” she sobbed as she left Campbelltown Court on Tuesday.

“We wish we could change it but we can’t.”

Petar Radinovic. Image: Supplied

Supporting the late Father Peter Neville, was a congregation of people who also had no words, still recovering from the loss in January.

The 80-year-old was walking along Sandringham Drive in Cecil Hills to visit a friend when a speeding, out-of-control Toyota Corolla mounted the footpath and hit him.

Father Peter Neville. Image: Supplied

Petar Radinovic was behind the wheel, travelling in the 50 kilometre zone at 110 kms per hour with his sister in the car and he told the court he hadn’t seen the priest until he hit him.

The P-plater and other bystanders freed Father Neville, who was pinned beneath the car, but unfortunately he’d suffered serious head injuries and died on the way to hospital.

The teen was charged with aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

At one of his first court appearances, the remorseful P-plater apologised to the Neville family through the media.

“I just want to apologise to the Neville family for what I’ve done, I wish I could have taken my own life but I ended up taking his unfortunately,” he said to news reporters in February.

“What happened, happened. I can’t change it -- I wish I could, but I can’t.”

According to documents tendered to the court on Tuesday, Radinovic wrote to the police recognising his speed and inexperience.

He’d only held a license for four days when he lost it speeding and then this incident occurred within 3 months of him getting it back.

He’s since been suffering psychologically, taking medication to treat his depression and anxiety but he still suffers disturbed sleep.

Patar Radonivic apologising in front of media in February.

Judge J English read out loud that he has “troubled emotions at night” and often while sleep walking will reenact that moment of lifting the vehicle off of his victim.

He was sentenced to three years in jail with an 18 month non-parole period and was banned from holding a drivers license until he’s 24.

His lawyer Gregory Meakin told reporters outside court that the sentence took into account Radinovic’s excellent character, but should be a “lesson for us all”.

“It’s something he’ll never forget. Everybody’s life was spoiled from not paying proper attention while driving.. all losers unfortunately… a lesson for us all,” he said.

“He’ll struggle (in prison) but he’s got a strong family connection and is close to people in his church.”

The veteran priest was ordained in 1962 and made a remarkable contribution to parish life across the Archdiocese of Sydney, serving nine different parishes over five decades.

Most notably, he established the Catholic Correspondence Centre, now known as the Centre for Christian Spirituality in Randwick, which made theological teachings and reflections available to the lay person.

Father Peter Neville. Image: Supplied

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“He was very much an ideas man who had a passionate commitment to faith education,” Emeritus Bishop Walker wrote about Father Neville in a tribute piece following his death.

“At the time it was established, The Catholic Correspondence Centre offered a unique faith education program unavailable anywhere else in Sydney and Father Neville worked hard to help make that happen.”

Father Neville also helped establish the Mary Immaculate Parish at Bossley Park where his namesake hall still operates in his honour.