Man sentenced for deadly highway crash
A MAN convicted of causing a car crash that killed his mother and seriously injured another motorist has been handed a 21-month suspended jail term.
Bharat Bhanderi, 29, was driving on the Pacific Hwy near Warrell Creek last April when he careered into the path of an oncoming car.
His mother - who was sitting in the back seat of his sedan - died at the scene, and the front passenger of the oncoming car sustained serious leg injuries.
Appearing in Coffs Harbour District Court on Monday, Bhanderi broke into tears as the court heard of the events surrounding the accident in Judge Clive Jeffreys' sentencing remarks.
On April 4, 2015, Bhanderi and his parents were travelling south from Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie.
Witnesses told the court they had seen Bhanderi driving dangerously on the Pacific Hwy including swerving across double lines, and into the path of oncoming traffic to check if he could overtake.
Shortly after 5pm, Bhanderi approached a left bend 500m north of Warrell Creek Bridge where heavy traffic had slowed.
After attempting to brake, Bhanderi careered into the path of an oncoming car that was carrying four French nationals.
Despite attempts of paramedics, Bhanderi's mother died at the scene.
Bhanderi gave evidence he had no recollection of the crash, and his last memory was stopping at a service station earlier that night.
Questioned on his driving capability, Bhanderi said he "wasn't used to country driving" but believed he was a "careful" driver and "always travelled nice and smooth".
Born in India, Bhanderi and his wife have been permanent residents in Australia since 2010 and have a one-year-old child.
Bhanderi's lawyer argued his client was the sole breadwinner, his wife spoke little English, and the couple had no other family living in Australia.
It was also noted Bhanderi had apologised to his extended family after his mother's funeral in India.
Judge Jeffreys said although "there was no doubt" of the seriousness of the offences, Mr Bhanderi's "moral culpability was low".
"At the time of the collision, there was no overtaking being undertaken… and no evidence the offender was driving at excessive speed," Judge Jeffreys said.
"It's my view that the driving can be characterised as a momentary reckless error of judgment."
Bhanderi was sentenced to 21 months in jail on a suspended 21 month good behaviour bond.
He is also disqualified from driving for six years.