L-plater sentenced over Kiama truck death

A magistrate has suspended a 12-month prison sentence given to an unaccompanied learner driver responsible for an accident that killed a worker at a National Broadband Network start-up site in Kiama last May.

Woonona man Tylah Windley admitted to getting behind the wheel of the parked Isuzu tipper truck on May 31, intending to reverse it a short distance up the road so he could clean dirt that had spilled into the gutter.

However, Windley unknowingly shifted the vehicle into second gear instead of reverse, causing it to bunny-hop forward, pinning fellow worker Joe Gouveia between it and a stationary truck parked in front. Mr Gouveia died from his injuries.

Wollongong Local Court magistrate Doug Dick on Wednesday described the incident as a ‘‘pure accident’’, saying he accepted that Windley had no ulterior motive when he  got behind the wheel of the truck other than to go about his work.

However, he said, regardless of that Windley should never have put himself in the driver’s seat.

‘‘You were a learner driver... you had no right to be there [unaccompanied] in the first instance,’’ he said.

‘‘You have robbed a family of a husband and provider, you have robbed the community of a good man.’’

In handing down the suspended sentence, Mr Dick acknowledged that Windley had shown remorse for his actions, was of prior good character and unlikely to reoffend in the future.

He ordered Windley to pay a total of $2500 in fines – $1500 for a charge of negligent driving occasioning death, and $500 each for charges of being an unaccompanied learner and driving with cannabis in his system.

The court heard Windley was subjected to a blood sample analysis after the accident, which proved positive. However the amount detected was not high enough for it to be considered a contributing factor towards the accident.

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