Truck driver sentenced over death of mother of two
JAMES Lawry kept his head low as the magistrate recounted the devastating events of May 29 last year, when his tipper truck killed mother-of-two Stacey Webb.
The atmosphere was sombre when Ms Webb's family, including her doting husband and children, watched on teary-eyed as the elderly truck driver was sentenced for negligent driving occasioning death.
Outside the courtroom a woman collapsed into the arms of another and sobbed uncontrollably.
An outpouring of grief from the Northern Beaches community had ensued following the news much loved Ms Webb had died tragically at the age of 43.
She was well known for her work at Authentic Automotive at Woolgoolga which she co-owned with her husband Stewart, and was a volunteer for the local junior Rugby League club.
When handing down his sentencing at Coffs Harbour Courthouse today, Magistrate James Gibson said it was around 8am when Lawry was driving the tipper truck northbound near Sandy Beach with a trailer attached and an excavator inside.
He said a witness had told the court she'd pulled onto the road and intended to turn right, pumping her brakes to alert Lawry who, it was found, was not paying attention at the time.
Realising Lawry wasn't going to slow down she swerved to the left of the road and came to a stop.
Lawry hit the witness' vehicle then skidded onto the oncoming lane - and it was in that split second he became aware Ms Webb was driving towards him.
"The only inference I can draw is albeit it was a split decision, (Lawry) made a decision to drive in a manner where his vehicle would cross the double lines hoping the oncoming vehicle would get out of his way,” Magistrate Gibson said.
"The offender's vehicle... impacted heavily with the front driver's side of Ms Webb's vehicle and she died as a result.”
It was stated the remorseful Lawry has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety since the tragic event.
Magistrate Gibson said Lawry was a person of 'high standard' in the community, known for his successful business and volunteer work particularly at the Uniting Church.
He said on this occasion, however, Lawry's high level of negligence could not be taken lightly.
"The offender was an experienced truck driver, he knew the consequences of his intentions could be catastrophic,” Magistrate Gibson said.
"He failed to keep his attention. It was clear the vehicle was acting in an irregular fashion as it pulled out onto Solitary Islands Way and to take his eyes off it makes the offence more serious.”
Lawry had pleaded guilty as soon as the opportunity had come, and he was today sentenced to 10 months of home detention at Coffs Harbour Local Court.
He has been disqualified from driving for two years.