GRAPPLING with grief, being a single mother and keeping the family business running, Tammy Cooke sat in Newcastle District Court on Friday and wondered aloud whether her husband would want her to hate the man who took his life.
Jamie Patrick Fogg, now 33, was drunk when he lost control of his car on a sweeping right hand bend and caused a crash at Anambah that killed his best mate, 28-year-old concreter and father-of-three Luke Cooke, in November last year.
"Given the relationship they had, the relationship we all had, I tell myself no he would want me to be civil, it was an accident," Ms Cooke said. "But sometimes I wonder; am I doing the right thing by my husband by not hating the man who took his life away. How will I know how he would want me to feel? I won't. I just have to trust that I knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't want me to hate and to be angry. He would want me to understand. A stupid decision was made that night and two families were left to pay the consequences."
Fogg and Mr Cooke had been at a children's birthday party on November 7 last year and arranged to meet up later that night.
Fogg, who was drinking and had smoked cannabis, drove them to a bottle shop at Rutherford to buy alcohol about 8.50pm.
At about 9pm, Fogg was driving along Anambah Road at Anambah when he failed to negotiate a sweeping bend, apparently without braking, and collided with a barrier. Mr Cooke was thrown from the car and died at the scene.
Ms Cooke received a call that the men had been in a crash and was driven to the scene. She said she has nightmares about seeing her husband's lifeless body.
Fogg was intoxicated and unsteady on his feet. A blood sample later revealed he had a blood alcohol reading of between 0.146 and 0.151.
A forensic pharmacologist opined that the cannabis he smoked would have further impaired his driving ability.
Fogg wrote a letter of apology to Mr Cooke's family, saying, in part, that he accepted he needed to be punished with a jail term and that he would be punishing himself for the rest of his life.
Fogg was jailed for a maximum of two years and nine months, with a non-parole period of 18 months.
"This is no jail sentence for us, this is lifetime," Ms Cooke said. "It is a loss that cannot be fixed."