AN experienced magistrate or judge could go his entire career and not come across the “unusual and unfortunate” circumstances that led to a fatal crash at Denman in 2015, Newcastle Local Court has heard.
“It was virtually a matter in which a perfect storm, a whole conglomeration of factors came together, that turned what would otherwise have been an entirely routine event on the Golden Highway on June 19, 2015, into one of the most remarkable events that that highway has seen in a long, long time,” Barrister Mark Preece said.
A utility stopped in the westbound lanes of the signposted 100km/h Golden Highway, awaiting movement from a school bus pulled over near the intersection of Pine Ridge Row.
And a truck driver, behind the wheel of a prime mover with 38 tonnes on board, approaching the stationary utility in drizzly conditions.
What happened next, Mr Preece told Magistrate Les Brennan, could only be classified as “bizarre”.
The truck driver slammed on the brakes, but hit the back of the stationary utility, causing it to jolt forward a few metres. Then the ute took off, side-swiping the school bus, leaving the road and plowing through the long grass.
The ute then re-entered the road, crossed to the eastbound lanes of the highway and again went off the road, where, after travelling 285 metres from the initial impact with the truck, it collided with a tree.
The passenger, Desmond Phillip Samways, was killed and the driver, Neville Arthur Bray, was seriously injured.
The truck driver, David Raymond Redfern, pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm over the crash, but Mr Preece submitted that his client’s level of negligence was so low he could be dealt with without recording a conviction.
Ultimately, Mr Brennan convicted Redfern, disqualified him from driving for the minimum period and placed him on an 18-month good behaviour bond.
Redfern’s solicitor, Donna Smith, has lodged a severity appeal to the district court.