Truck driver Robert Crockford has a "high moral culpability" for his actions that led to a fatal seven-vehicle crash at roadworks, Dubbo District Court has heard.
Killed in the pile-up were "two wonderful human beings", Hannah Ferguson, 19, of Gulargambone and her boyfriend, Reagen Skinner, 21, the court heard.
Their families gave emotional victim impact statements on Thursday as Crockford appeared for a sentencing hearing before Judge Nanette Williams.
Crockford was charged after the 2018 crash at roadworks on the Newell Highway about 10km north of Dubbo.
In March a jury found him guilty of 12 charges including two counts of dangerous driving causing death and three counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
Deanna Ferguson, mother of Hannah, told the court her life changed forever on the January 16, 2018.
"On that fateful day I was given a life sentence I neither asked for, nor deserved," Mrs Ferguson said.
"In an instant, my beautiful firstborn daughter at the tender age of 19, the child Ian and I had longed for, was gone."
Mrs Ferguson recalled Hannah was an "absolute delight" growing up, and she remembered her daughter and Reagen on the morning of the crash.
"They were both so happy, laughing and joking around," she said.
Mrs Ferguson told of her family's struggle to go on after the loss, and said she now took medication to stop her nightmares and alleviate the many panic attacks she suffered.
"The chance to see Hannah celebrate her 21st birthday, her wedding and having children as well as so many other milestones have all been ripped from my grasp," she said.
Reagen's older brother Kyle Wellsmore told the court on the day of the crash he lost his "brother and best friend".
The pair's early years had been spent in a "broken household" and they developed a very close relationship, he said.
"Losing Reagen has caused a monumental shift in my core, I will never be the same," he said.
Reagan had been studying a combined degree of nursing and paramedics with the intention of going on into midwifery, the court heard.
"Reagen held a deep conviction in regards to compassion, he believed strongly that everyone deserves respect, care and love," Kyle Wellsmore said.
Reagen held a deep conviction in regards to compassion, he believed strongly that everyone deserves respect, care and love.Kyle Wellsmore, brother of Reagen Skinner
Reagen's uncle Richard Wellsmore, who regarded him and his brother Kyle as sons, next spoke.
Mr Wellsmore began by asking if he could see the face of Crockford, who appeared by video link, as he read his victim impact statement in court.
He questioned how the accused could have had "the sheer audacity to plead not guilty".
The court heard how Mr Wellsmore and his family had Reagen and older brother Kyle stay in the school holidays for many years.
He said gradually he and Reagen "truly connected" and Reagen became like his understudy.
"He started to model himself on what he could learn from me, which I relished," Mr Wellsmore said.
Mr Wellsmore recalled the young man asking him what was the most important thing to do in life, and his advice to "endeavour to live life in a manner to make a positive impression on all that you meet in an effort to leave a lasting legacy".
"Even with his early death, [Reagen] had succeeded in doing this, which was evidenced by the large quantity of people who travelled long distances to show their respect at both his memorial and subsequent funeral," he said.
Mr Wellsmore said Crockford had not spoken one apologetic word in the time since the crash, saying his fiancee and his mother had expressed their condolences, "but from the actual culprit, nothing".
Crash survivors speak
The court also heard from people who had sustained injuries in the crash, among them Julie Marshall.
She required multiple surgeries for the injuries she sustained, she said.
Ms Marshall told the court the crash had had an emotional, physical and psychological impact on her life.
She was unable to lift her left arm, and was now "hyper vigilant" when in a vehicle, especially at roadworks and was "anxious" as a passenger, she said.
"Prior to the accident I was very independent, the accused has taken this away from me," she said.
Prior to the accident I was very independent, the accused has taken this away from me.Julie Marshall
Connah Matthews was trapped in his car under Mr Crockford's heavy vehicle in the wake of the crash.
He told the court he suffered deep thermal burns and those injuries continued to impact on him.
He said he was also still dealing with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Natalie Dunstan said while she was fortunate to walk away, she still attended physio, and mentally the crash affected her every day.
She said she questioned the loss of life and felt guilt and hurt.
"I continue to think of Hannah and Reagen and their families and my heart breaks for them," she said.
The Crown and the defence make submissions on sentence
Defence barrister Jack Tyler-Stott said the trial was run with a series of agreed facts, and little had been in dispute other than the cough syncope - that had formed Crockford's defence - and therefore a sentence discount could be "5 per cent at most".
He submitted the dangerous driving occasioning death charges were in the mid-range of objective seriousness.
He said Crockford was of prior good character, was not likely to reoffend and his actions on the day had not been planned.
Crockford could not make up for what had happened, but he had many years left in which to do good, Mr Tyler-Stott said.
After a break, the barrister said his client had heard for the first time the victim impact statements.
Crockford had asked him to convey to the families he had wished to speak to them during the trial, but his legal team had advised him not to, a normal direction, and that it was also a bail condition that he did not, Mr Tyler-Stott said.
Crockford had meant no disrespect, and was a "broken and contrite" man who knew nothing he could say would assuage their pain, the barrister said.
Crown prosecutor Mark Davies said the Crown's case was fatigue and microsleeps led to Crockford's inattention which led to the crash.
He submitted Crockford had a high moral culpability.
Judge Williams noted the Crown's submission that Crockford's behaviour was "a gross abandonment of responsibility" and asked if the Crown put it at the "worst case".
Mr Davies said not "worst case", but that Mr Crockford had made decisions the night before the crash, deciding to stay up late.
The legislation placed a positive duty on heavy vehicle drivers to avoid fatigue, "that's how important it is to the community", Mr Davies said.
The Crown also cautioned the court regarding the written evidence submitted in the subjective case, saying it was on the basis Crockford had not taken the witness box.
Judge Williams said it was a complex matter that would take some time and adjourned the case to September 24, and Crockford remained remanded in custody.