Three family members of a man who was killed in a fiery fuel tanker crash at Albion Park Rail have spoken about the trauma and ongoing heartbreak after that night.
Darren Butler and Andrew Russell were found guilty of manslaughter following a trial earlier this year.
Warrawong father of seven Daniel Merrett, 27, was killed when the Ford Territory driven by his sister Kaylene Merrett crashed into the rear of a fuel tanker on the Princes Highway in the early hours of May 18, 2019.
A jury found Butler and Russell guilty of chasing the Territory while in a Toyota Corolla in such an intimidatory manner that they caused the fatal collision.
Butler was also found guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm which related to Ms Merrett and Mr Merrett's her cousin Jakaya Clulow.
However the jury acquitted Russell on the charge of discharging a firearm in a public place.
During the course of the trial, the jury heard there had been a dispute between Butler and another passenger in the Ford Territory, Thomas Johnson, earlier in the night over unpaid debt.
Both vehicles were then involved in a high-speed chase down the Princes Highway, which came to an abrupt end when the Territory smashed into a fuel tanker turning out of Creole Road.
The court heard on average Butler was travelling about 160 km/h in a 70 km/h zone after they got onto the M1 Princes Motorway, with the whole chase going for 11 kilometres.
During Butler and Russell's sentencing hearing on Friday, Levenia Clulow, Daniel's mother spoke about the heartbreak she suffered after her son's death.
She described the difficulty in watching her daughter and Ms Clulow slowly but not fully recover from their injuries.
"I will be forever haunted as mother and I will forever have a broken heart," she said.
Ms Clulow said she would always be "emotionally scarred" and "tormented" by the way her son died, adding he was "taken too soon".
Ms Merrett described how she relieved the crash when going to sleep, adding she also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and gets scared when driving near trucks.
"For the last two years I've suffered from extreme pain and headaches," she said.
The injuries Ms Merrett suffered in the crash included a collapsed lung, fractured rib, hip, pelvis, and wounds to her arm and eye.
"I had to learn how to walk again and still have stiffness and pain in my hip...I can no longer run around the yard with my kids."
Ms Merrett said she was heartbroken to have lost her brother, who she described as her best friend and her "driving buddy", adding she no longer enjoyed driving.
"Now I feel like I am destroyed inside and out," she said. "I don't know who I am anymore let alone what to do with my days.
"I am and will be haunted by this accident and my brother's death for the rest of my life. I will never heal completely as time cannot heal the loss I have endured.
"I relive the accident on a daily basis and will never come to terms with it, Daniel's death or the injuries he sustained or the way he died."
Jakaya Clulow told the court about how her life had changed "not for the better" as she was an independent 25-year-old woman who used to love her appearance, going outdoors and going to family gatherings.
"My life changed drastically in a way no one can imagine," she said.
Ms Clulow said she struggled with the daily routines of life such as showering, going up the stairs and playing with her child.
She described being dependent on her family and partner; explained she would not be able to have anymore children and would need further surgeries.
Ms Clulow sustained a deep wound to her hip, a fractured rib, superficial lacerations to her chest, and injuries to her foot and pelvis.
She said she continued to suffer from the trauma of the night especially when she was close to trucks and had regular nightmares.
Ms Clulow still struggles to come to terms with how her life changed that night after she "simply asked for a lift home."
Meanwhile, Wollongong District Court Judge Andrew Haesler watched video of Butler in a police chase after he went on the run following the night of the collision.
Russell's defence barrister Winston Terracini suggested his client's involvement was not as significant as Butler's matters because he was a passenger, with the objective seriousness falling towards the lower end.
He said Russell's family was still supportive of him and Russell felt remorse for being involved in the collision but maintained his innocence.
Mr Terracini also said Russell was doing well on a buprenorphine program in custody and hoped to remain drug free once released on parole, adding his client was at risk of institutionalisation.
Butler's defence barrister Bernadette O'Reilly pointed to several significant factors in the case including - Ms Merrett driving with methylamphetamine in her system and Mr Merrett not wearing a seatbelt - arguing they reduced Butler's moral culpability.
Ms O'Reilly said Butler also risked being institutionalised and had only been out of jail for five months on the night.
She said he was still a relatively young man and the court should not impose a "crushing sentence".
Ms O'Reilly said Butler's biggest improvement was from the buprenorphine program in custody and had "settled" into jail life.
Crown prosecutor Glen Porter noted Butler had been charged 18 times while in custody and had "clocked up" an additional two years of jail time.
The men are expected to be sentenced on December 9.
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