“TWO seconds, that’s all it takes”.
It was one of the first things David James Price told police and other motorists after his Mitsubishi Fuso truck “overrode” a Toyota HiLux and killed 30-year-old Ellalong man Daniel Milne on the New England Highway at Beresfield on May 10, 2016.
“I looked away for a second and then this,” Price said, referring to the crash.
“I just took my eyes off the road for a second, I didn’t see them stop.”
But the length of time that Price took his eyes off the road must have been longer than that.
Price, now 57, of Butterwick, was found guilty in March of dangerous driving occasioning death after a two-week trial in Newcastle District Court.
And on Friday, he spent his first night behind bars after he was sentenced to a maximum of two-and-a-half years jail, with a non-parole period of one year and three months.
Crown prosecutor Brian Costello had said the long line of traffic banked up on the highway must have been visible to Price for about 700 metres, or a period of 27 seconds, before the crash.
But for reasons unknown, Price didn’t notice the traffic queues or begin braking until about three seconds before he hit Mr Milne’s HiLux, which was at the end of a line of cars banked up approaching John Renshaw Drive.
Mr Costello had submitted that Price’s conduct would not amount to “momentary inattention”, but instead was “approaching an abandonment of responsibility”.
Barrister Benjamin Bickford, for Price, said his comments immediately after the crash were consistent with the fact that Price’s inattention was “probably only in the order of a couple of seconds”.
On Friday, Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, found the evidence in Price’s trial did not allow him to determine the length of inattention prior to the fatal collision.
“The offender must have had a clear view of the highway leading up to the collision site,” Mr Gartelmann said.
“Stationary vehicles, intermittently stopping, must have been visible, had the offender been paying attention, for a period of at least several seconds.”
He found Price was genuinely remorseful, despite his not guilty plea, and was unlikely to re-offend.
Price is eligible for parole in August, 2019.
I'm satisfied that the offender is genuinely remorseful and has taken responsibility for his actions.Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC.