A Queensland man whose dangerous driving in a truck caused the death of a young couple near Dubbo in 2018 has been jailed for at least five years and four months.
Fatigued and suffering microsleeps, Robert Crockford, 52, did not "brake, swerve, decelerate or take any evasive action" before his heavy vehicle collided with a line-up of cars stopped at roadworks on the Newell Highway.
Nineteen-year-old Hannah Ferguson of Gulargambone and her boyfriend, Reagen Skinner, 21, were killed at the scene, about 10km north of Dubbo.
A jury in March found Crockford guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing death, three counts of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and of injuring another seven people, rejecting his defence that he suffered a cough syncope causing him to black out.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving occasioning death is 10 years' jail.
In the District Court at Dubbo on Thursday, Judge Nanette Williams sentenced Crockford to an aggregate term of nine years and six months, with a non-parole period of five years and four months.
The families of Hannah Ferguson and Reagen Skinner were present.
Judge Williams said the professional driver of more than two decades had ample warning of his state of fatigue, yet made the conscious decision to continue, which led to "mayhem and carnage" on January 16, 2018.
Crockford was driving a truck with a 35-tonne load from Queensland to Canberra.
In the two nights leading up to the crash on January 16 he had a maximum of four hours and 45 minutes, and five hours and 45 minutes sleep respectively.
Crockford ignored signs in the lead-up to the roadworks, and hit the line of cars while travelling at 86 km/h, which Judge Williams said were aggravating factors.
The two counts of dangerous driving causing death were in the upper end of the mid-range of seriousness, she said. It was a matter in which the need for general deterrence loomed large, she said.
At a sentencing hearing in June, the Crown had submitted that only a lengthy term of imprisonment was appropriate. The defence had submitted the offence was not planned, Crockford was of prior good character, was not likely to reoffend and had good prospects for rehabilitation.
The court was also told it was Crockford's intention to never drive a heavy vehicle again.
Judge Williams began the proceedings by acknowledging the crash had irrevocably changed the lives of many people and that the court extended its most sincere condolences to the families of Hannah Ferguson and Reagen Skinner.
Crockford is eligible for parole on January 1, 2025, with his sentence taking into account time already served. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months from January 1, 2025.
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
A Queensland man whose dangerous driving in a truck caused the death of a young couple stopped at roadworks near Dubbo in 2018 has been jailed for at least five years and four months.
Robert Crockford, 52, was sentenced to a 9.5 year aggregate term of imprisonment and will be eligible for release to parole on January 1, 2025.
Nineteen-year-old Hannah Ferguson of Gulargambone and boyfriend Reagen Skinner, 21, were killed in the seven-vehicle crash on the Newell Highway in January 2018.
The sentence was handed down in Dubbo District Court by Judge Nanette Williams on Thursday afternoon.
The families of Hannah Ferguson and Reagen Skinner were present at the court to hear the sentence.
More to come.
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