A professional dancer was left with life-changing injuries after a drunk mother swerved onto the wrong side of the road in a horror crash, a court has heard.
In emotional scenes on Wednesday, 46-year-old Rasha Arafa gave a tearful embrace to her loved ones as she was handcuffed at Downing Centre Local Court and led to prison for the head-on smash.
Reading from agreed facts, Magistrate Daniel Covington said Arafa was driving “at a speed” on a busy Sydney road at 8:20pm on October 4 last year when “her vehicle mounted a medium strip and went onto oncoming traffic”.
Magistrate Covington said several cars had to move out of the way as Arafa’s car smashed into an Uber front-on, injuring the driver and passenger.
Rasha Issa. Picture: Facebook
Arafa, a law graduate whose LinkedIn profile says she is the managing director of a cryotherapy business, returned a high-range blood alcohol reading of .183.
Magistrate Covington said the victim, a former dancer, was left with significant injuries that required four surgeries, including a punctured lung, broken rib and damaged kidneys.
“The victim, Ms Simpson, also suffered financial hardship — her career as a dancer was jeopardised”.
“In relation to the (Uber) driver, he suffered a fractured rib and fractured vertebrae, but it was a far less significant than Ms Simpson’s”.
Crown prosecutor, Mr Luthra, told the court Ms Arafa should be jailed, given her high-range drink-driving and the fact she “completely ruined” the lives of the victims — especially the dancer.
Arafa is the director of a cryotherapy business. Picture: Facebook
“She sustained significant injuries and now she can’t dance again,” he said, adding Arafa had a previous drink driving offence on her record.
Arafa’s defence lawyer, Andrew Norrie, argued his client should be served a community-based sentence, submitting she had a mental health impairment and experienced family-linked trauma in the lead up to the offence.
“We are dealing with a person who otherwise has little to no offences on her record. There are two distinct entries with a big break in time,” Mr Norrie said.
Ultimately, Magistrate Covington decided she must be sent behind bars.
It was not the first time Rasha was caught drink-driving. Picture: Facebook
“Her sentencing assessment report shows remorse … she speaks of stresses around the time which is consistent with the psychological report; she had alcohol to cope and unfortunately got in a vehicle. She was driving and having a breakdown and this offence occurred,” Magistrate Covington said.
“Importantly, I recognise the harm was significant. Two people were going about their day when one in the back of an Uber has had her life changed as a result of this offence”.
Arafa was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment with an eight month non-parole period for one count of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and one count of causing bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of a motor vehicle — having pleaded guilty to both charges.
She will be released on parole on January 16, 2024.
As the sentence was handed down, a glamorous-looking Arafa turned to her partner and cried.
Just minutes later, her lawyers launched a sentence appeal and tried unsuccessfully to release her on bail while she awaits appeal proceedings.
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When Magistrate Covington dismissed the bail application on the grounds of community safety, Arafa muttered “s**t” from the custody box.
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