P-plater's 'failure' catastrophic for biker, passenger
FOOTAGE taken from a camera positioned over a dangerous intersection on the Warrego Highway captured the moments leading up to a crash that killed 57-year-old motorcyclist Martin Foott.
Ipswich District Court was this week shown the footage to the point of impact, as Kaitlyn Una Hawes faced sentencing for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm.
The video showed Hawes' red Suzuki Swift stopping at a give-way sign at the intersection of the highway and Fairway Dr at Hatton Vale.
Hawes waited for a truck and several cars to pass, before pulling out across two lanes in an attempt to merge onto the west-bound lanes of the highway. As she was crossing, her car was struck just behind the driver's door by an oncoming rider on a Harley Davidson.
Mr Foott, of Minden, died at the scene following a heavy impact, while his pillion passenger Lisa Hanlon, 50, suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to the PA Hospital.
Hawes, now aged 20, pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and grievous bodily harm at Hattonvale on December 16, 2016.
The crash happened just after 9am. Hawes, then aged 18, was a P-plater and with no traffic or criminal history.
Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said Hawes was not charged with the offence until January this year and had previously declined to take part in a formal police interview.
He said Hawes had to give-way at the highway in a 100kmh speed zone, and the weather was fine and clear.
"There was nothing Mr Foott could do. By the time she pulls out the rider had no opportunity to react," Mr Needham said.
"It is a failure (by Hawes) to keep a proper look-out.
"It is not a case that she ignored the sign, or ignored the road rules, but it had a catastrophic result."
With regard to Hawes criminal culpability, he found the circumstances to be somewhat "inexplicable".
Mr Needham said Ms Hanlon suffered devastating and life-changing injuries, and continued to suffer as a result.
Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren said there was no foolhardiness or recklessness in Hawes' driving, but she had failed to keep a proper look-out.
Defence barrister Colin Reid said he did not challenge the submission of a two-year jail sentence, but while acknowledging the death and injuries caused, he said it was an unusual case and Hawes should not have to serve actual time behind bars.
"She approached the intersection carefully. She stopped. She waited and drove off when she felt it was safe to do so.
"She did not see the approaching cyclist. It is a difficult intersection for any driver.
"She is remorseful and has been devastated by this accident." Mr Reid said Hawes was now engaged and would be married next year.
Judge Horneman-Wren outlined the serious injuries suffered by Ms Hanlon including spinal and pelvis fractures, saying; "the event has shattered her life as it was".
He also noted Hawes had been named the 2016 Young Citizen of the Year for her rural district only a few months before the crash.
He found there was no speed, alcohol or drugs involved, and to the contrary Hawes had stopped her Suzuki before the collision.
Hawes was sentenced to two years jail immediately suspended for two years. Her licence was disqualified for 18 months.