A driver involved in a fatal pedestrian crash at Stanwell Park when he suffered a medical episode behind the wheel has avoided a criminal conviction after drug testing found he had traces of a psychoactive drug in his system at the time.
Justin Brian Birkbeck, 51, was driving a white Toyota Hilux ute along Lawrence Hargrave Drive just before 8.30am on November 18, 2020, when he had a sudden drop in blood pressure, known as a vasovagal syncope episode, which caused him to black out.
Birkbeck's vehicle left the roadway and crashed into the front of the property Brett Harris shared with his elderly mother.
Mr Harris, who was sweeping the front deck at the time of the accident, was struck by the vehicle.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics, before being airlifted to St George Hospital. He died a short time later.
Birkbeck was charged with several offences including dangerous drive occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death, drive with illicit drug present in blood and not keep left of dividing line.
However, prosecutors withdrew all but the drug charge after an investigation revealed Birkbeck had suffered a medical episode beyond his control in the moments before the crash.
In court on Tuesday, Birkbeck pleaded guilty to the drug charge. He provided a letter to the court in which he expressed remorse for what he'd done.
"I am writing to apologise and express my sincere regret for committing the offence of driving with [an] illicit drug present in my blood," he wrote.
"My lawyer told me that the events on November 18, 2020, which led to me being tested for illicit substances, are not relevant to this matter and I understand that there is no suggestion I am criminally responsible for the death of Mr Brett Harris.
"Regardless, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr Harris' family, his friends and the entire Stanwell Park community."
Birkbeck revealed the events of that day still "haunt" him and he lives with the feeling of guilt every day.
"My doctor tells me that my loss of consciousness on that day was due to a vasovagal syncope episode rather than drug use, and I accept that, but that fact has done nothing to stop the guilt," he said.
Magistrate Michael Ong spared Birkbeck a conviction and placed him on a two-year conditional release order.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.