Joel Anthony Costello pleads guilty to causing Andrew Ayre's death

CRASH: Police examining the scene of a fatal crash on Minmi Road at Wallsend in 2013. Picture: Phil Hearne.
CRASH: Police examining the scene of a fatal crash on Minmi Road at Wallsend in 2013. Picture: Phil Hearne.

A TRUCK driver who hit and killed a cyclist at Wallsend in 2013 failed to show up to court in the lead-up to his trial and was arrested driving an unregistered truck on a suspended license.

Joel Anthony Costello, 34, of Maryland, pleaded guilty in Newcastle District Court on Thursday to dangerous driving occasioning death in relation to the crash on Minmi Road on the morning of August 18, 2013.

Costello had trace amounts of methylamphetamine and doxylamine in his system and more than $15,000 stashed in his truck when he failed to merge as Minmi Road narrowed from two lanes to one and struck Andrew Ayre as he went for a morning ride.

Costello was charged with a number of offences in January, 2014, but for more than two years had remained at liberty while his case moved slowly through the courts.

That was until he failed to appear in Newcastle District Court on February 11 and Judge Christopher Robison issued a warrant for his arrest. 

He was detected 10 days later by police on the Mitchell Highway at Nyngan allegedly driving an unregistered truck with a suspended license. 

He told police he was driving from Maitland to Adelaide to make a delivery. 

A check revealed the warrant and he was taken into custody. 

He applied for bail in Dubbo Local Court the following day but it was refused.

He tried again for release in Newcastle District Court last week, but again it was declined. 

He had been expected to face a trial on April 26, but instead pleaded guilty on Thursday to the most serious charge of causing Mr Ayre’s death. 

He will be sentenced in Newcastle District Court on June 16.

Court documents state Mr Ayre was riding his racing bike east in the breakdown lane along Minmi Road about 8.10am on August 18, 2013. 

At the same time, and headed in the same direction, was Costello behind the wheel of his Kenworth truck.

“[Costello] failed to merge when the left lane in which he was travelling ended,” court documents state.

“He continued to drive with the truck straddling the fog line on the left hand edge of the road and approximately half of the truck in the break down lane when he collided with a cyclist travelling in the breakdown lane.”

Mr Ayre was knocked off his bike and run over by the truck. He died at the scene.

Costello’s truck came to a stop more than 50 metres after the impact. 

He told police at the scene he had seen the cyclist ahead of him and that he was trying to merge into the right lane. But he said a blue car had stayed level with him and blocked him from doing so. He then told police the cyclist had “moved over and got the wobbles and swerved in front of me”.