Culpable Driving Court Room Drama

Kim Tran was an A grade student, had great friends and had just got some new wheels. It just took one moment to bring his world crashing down.

The new updated Culpable Driving Court Room Drama looks at the case of a young man, Kim Tran who was charged with culpable driving in the County Court. The case is based on a real case but names, dates and details have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of the original participants. Group sizes are between 15-30 students for both activities.

This is a one hour mock trial held in the Old Magistrates Court. To access the main building of the Old Melbourne Gaol site you will also need to book a Gaol Tour.


Learning Value

This program has been popular with schools as it is highly relevant to adolescents who may shortly become drivers. It engages students with a complex legal scenario that is highly relevant, requires the logical analysis of evidence, an introduction to legal procedures and thinking about argument, motives, ethics and social values.

This program is best suited to Yr 10 to VCE as it deals with mature themes.

The National Trust gratefully acknowledges the support the Victorian Law Foundation and the Campbell Edwards Trust in the making of this program.

Year Levels:Culpable Driving - Yr 10 +
Duration:50 mins
Numbers:15 - 30 students
Location:377 Russell Street, Melbourne
Resources:Online Teacher Kits, Character Breakdowns
Cost:$11.00 per student. Different prices for After Hours & Early sessions (Teachers free at ratio of 1:12)
Bookings:Online Booking Form or Email or Phone: 9656 9817.


Curriculum Links

English - Literacy - Interacting with othersYr9
English - Literacy - Interpreting, analysing, evaluating
Humanities & Social Sciences - Civics & Citizenship - Laws & citizensYr10ACHCK077
Humanities & Social Sciences - Civics & Citizenship - Analysis, synthesis & interpretationYr10ACHCS084
Humanities & Social Sciences - Civics & Citizenship - Questioning & researchYr10ACHCS082
Humanities & Social Sciences - Civics & Citizenship - Analysis, synthesis & interpretationYr10ACHCS095
Humanities & Social Sciences - Civics & Citizenship - Analysis, synthesis & interpretationYr10ACHCS097




Court Room Character List

You can pre select these characters from your class before you arrive


Main Characters and main speaking roles

1   Tipstaff – JO RAFFERTY – Small amount to say, peppered throughout play

2   Judge – Mrs FRANCINE DANKS – A large speaking part. A strong, commanding loud voice

3   Defendant – KIM TRAN – A small speaking part

4   Prosecuting Counsel – Ms AMY SING – A major speaking part. A strong loud voice

5   Defending Counsel – Mr SAM WESTON – A major speaking part. A strong loud voice

All Witnesses / Testimonials are asked to the witness stand once only for either prosecution or defence. They all have several lines.


Witnesses Appearing for the Prosecution


6   Witness – SENIOR CONSTABLE DAVIS– Arrived first on the accident scene, serious and stern


7   Witness – ERIC ROE – Driver of the other racing car. Friendship with Kim has not been the same since the accident


8   Witness – ELIZABETH GRECO – Mother of the boy killed in accident. Has not been able to come to terms with losing her son


Witnesses Appearing for the Defence


9    Testimonial – Dr JASMEEN YOLANDA – Clinical Psychologist for Kim


10 Character witness – FATHER HONG– Has known Kim and the Tran family for twelve years


11 Testimonial – MARIO ATTARDI – Senior Court Advisor



Other Characters


12 Public gallery 1    Kim critic

13 Public gallery 2    Kim supporter

14 Public gallery 3    Represent the judging community




These other characters do not have speaking parts, but are important to the case. Assign these characters, as many or as few as you have students for.





Imposing a Sentence - Class Activity

In the dark of night, on an inner city street in Melbourne, a hotted up car with P plates idles at traffic light. Behind the wheel is Kim Tran, a 19 year old Vietnamese boy. In the passenger seat next to him is his best mate, Jase Greco. Another car pulls up alongside them.

The sound of a car engine revving can be heard. Kim leans forward and looks past Jase to the car next to him. In a Holden commodore, his mate Eric, revs his engine, and yells out to Kim. “C’mon Tran, you ever gonna use that V8 or what?”. Tran looks wounded. Eric revs the engine again. Jase laughs and turns his cap back to front. “Let’s go bro, hit it.” Kim looks in the rear vision mirror, the pressure of the taunts getting to him. The streets are empty.

The light changes to green and Kim steps on the accelerator. Eric, shocked that Kim has accepted the challenge, burns off after him.

Streetlights come in and out of focus and broken white lines flash by on the road. A close up of the speedometer dial as it hits 80kph increasing to 100kph. A street sign with the speed limit of 70kph flashes past. Eric looks across at Kim. The sound of the engine revving. Eric screams out as he takes the lead and gives Kim the finger from his driver’s window.

Jase slaps the dashboard and whoops “C’mon bro, step on it!” The speedometer hits 120kph. Kim takes his eyes off the road to look across at Eric. Suddenly, car headlights sweep across an oncoming telegraph pole, the sound of wheels skidding, a scream, a deafening crash…

The story of Kim Tran is an all too common one: a combination of youthful dare-devil-type behaviour, speed, driving inexperience and a car that was far too powerful resulting in the death  of Kim’s friend Jase Greco. Kim was convinced to race his new car against Eric Roe and lost control of the vehicle.

At the age of 18 years, with a university course waiting, Kim found himself facing a charge of culpable driving causing the death of Jase Greco.  Jase had just completed his VCE exams, was the eldest child in his family and was loved and respected by his parents, younger siblings, friends and extended family.

Jase is now dead and so is Luke Simpkin, another passenger in the car at the time. Kim also wounded himself and as well as a third passenger in the crash.

The names, details and dates of the crash have been changed, but the essential information has not, nor have quotes and dialogue taken directly from the court transcripts that form the basis for this plea hearing.

Using the sequence of images below and reading the basic description of the case above consider the following.

Writing Exercise

Write an imaginative account of the incident from the perspective of Eric who raced Kim in another vehicle. What does he feel about the accident? Who was at fault? What does he feel should happen to Kim?


Group Activity
In small groups, ask students to consider the following questions.

Create a list of the factors that a judge must take into account when deciding what sentence to impose on Kim.

Considerations for a Judge when determining sentencing
− The maximum and minimum penalty available and current sentencing practice
− The type of offence and how serious the particular example was
− The impact of the crime upon the victim
− The degree of responsibility and culpability of the offender
− Any aggravating and mitigating factors

After sufficient time for discussion, bring the groups together to see if it is possible to arrive at a consensus for the answers.
• Are the factors in this list of equal importance, or is it possible to create a hierarchy from most important to least important?
• Prior offences, age, gender, race, culture, character, mental state, alcohol, drugs, gambling and personal circumstances all help to determine the degree of responsibility and culpability an offender has.

How could these things affect a person’s degree of responsibility and does this threaten in any way the widely-held belief that we are all equal before the law?

This program was supported by the Campbell Edwards Trust, the Victoria Law Foundation and the Commonwealth Government NTPP funding program.

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