How parking ticket led to a council ranger hospitalised in a coma suffering a traumatic brain injury

A young driver has admitted he was a ‘coward’ for mowing down a 61-year-old parking ranger and leaving him lying on the road with life threatening injuries only moments after being issued a ticket.

Matthew Valerio was sentenced in NSW District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing grievous bodily harm.

The 22-year-old admitted to driving into the ranger, who suffered traumatic brain and spine injuries and lacerations to his liver that left him in a coma for two weeks.

During sentencing, Judge Kara Shead found Valerio knew he had collided with a person on November 26, 2022 in Sydney’s Inner West and the impact caused the man to be thrown underneath a parked car.

The court heard he ‘panicked’ and sped away in such a hurry that he smashed into another parked car.

‘I thought I was going to jail,’ the 22-year-old explained after his arrest.

Matthew Valerio (pictured) admitted he was a ‘fool’ for leaving a Sydney parking ranger ‘catastrophically injured’ on the road

Judge Shead found his panic was consistent with his knowledge he had hit a person rather than another vehicle.

In a statement to the court, Valerio said he had an ‘infinite feeling of guilt’ and thought every day about the ‘catastrophic’ harm he caused to the parking ranger.

‘I feel disgusted about the extent of the injuries I have caused,’ he said.

‘I accept I was a coward to leave him by the side of the road. I wish I could take it back, and I thank God I did not kill him.’

Judge Shead found the offences had occurred because the victim was performing his duties as a parking ranger.

‘Council law enforcement officers are entitled to go about their sometimes difficult work safely … and should be free from danger and injury,’ she said.

She did not accept Valerio’s testimony that he was ‘only mildly annoyed at being given a ticket’ less than two minutes before the collision.

The court was told Valerio was seen on CCTV parking his white Mazda ute in a no-stopping zone in Enmore in Sydney’s Inner West just before 8pm on November 26.

The vehicle was spotted about 40 minutes later by a parking ranger who issued a $120 ticket to the unattended vehicle for being illegally parked.

The severely injured ranger was one of two (pictured) writing Valerio a fine in November 2022

The severely injured ranger was one of two (pictured) writing Valerio a fine in November 2022

Court documents show Valerio and his friend approached and yelled ‘That’s my car, that’s my car’ at the ranger, who told them it was too late to contest the ticket.

CCTV captured someone swearing repeatedly at the parking ranger before Valerio and his friend got back into the white ute and drove away down Marian St.

Valerio then performed a three-point turn and drove back towards the parking ranger and his colleague, both of whom were wearing high-visibility vests.

Only 90 seconds after his altercation with the first parking ranger, Valerio ploughed into the second parking ranger and a stationary Toyota.

Instead of stopping, he left the 61-year-old man lying underneath a parked car with life threatening injuries as he sped away.

The parking ranger was in a coma in the intensive care unit for two weeks after the horrific crash. When he woke, he had no recollection of the crash.

The victim sustained traumatic brain and spinal injuries, a 10.5 cm laceration on his liver, and fractures to his pelvis, ribs, and arms.

He required multiple surgeries and had to stay in hospital for nearly four months as he recovered. The court heard he is still receiving specialist treatment for his ongoing pain.

‘He will have to deal with ongoing medical issues for the rest of his life,’ Judge Shead said in summarising the man’s victim impact statement.

‘He feels that he will not be able to take care of himself in the future … which causes him to feel uneasy because he is worried about how he will cope.’

The parking ranger said a normal life was ‘not possible anymore’ after the crash left him with screws in his spine and multiple steel plates in his body.

‘I’m glad to still be alive,’ he said in his statement.

‘(Valerio) has definitely taken the enjoyment of the golden years of my life away from me.’

The court heard the 61-year-old suffers post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crash, and has constant nightmares of utes speeding towards him and hitting him.

Judge Shead noted the ‘devastating’ ‘long term impacts’ of the crash on the man’s life were a regrettable consequence of Valerio’s reckless actions.

Marion St in Enmore where the ranger was hit is a very narrow street

Marion St in Enmore where the ranger was hit is a very narrow street

CCTV captured Valerio pausing for less than two seconds when he was 30 metres away from the collision, but he didn’t get out of his car or call emergency services.

He was in such a hurry to flee the scene that he crashed into a parked Audi around the corner.

‘The offender disregarded public safety,’ Judge Shead said.

She sentenced Valerio to one year and 10 months behind bars, which was backdated to account for time already served.

He will be eligible for parole in December this year and his sentence will expire in September next year.

The judge accepted Valerio suffered from mental health conditions which would make his time in custody more onerous, and noted he had been depressed after the horrific collision.

She also took into account his youth, remorse, clean record, and ‘excellent prospects of rehabilitation.’

Character references for the 22-year-old described him as ‘compassionate, caring and gentle’ and labelled the offences ‘out of character’.