A fatal truck crash caused by a P-plater who was watching a television program on his phone has been described as a tragedy born from inexperience and a common belief of young people that they are immortal.
Bailey Camilleri, 22, has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison, with a non-parole period of 17 months, after previously pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death.
On the morning of November 2, 2021, Camilleri’s truck collided with a car in Sydney’s west after crossing into the oncoming lane, killing 28-year-old schoolteacher Gemma Thompson.
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Although he sustained a leg injury in the collision, Camilleri was able to get out of the truck and witnesses at the scene heard him express immediate concern for Thompson.
Camilleri originally claimed he had fallen asleep, but later investigations revealed he had been streaming an episode of American sitcom The Big Bang Theory at the time of the crash, Penrith District Court has heard.
When sentencing him on Thursday, Judge Sophia Beckett noted Camilleri’s driving on the day was consistent with being distracted by his phone, and this was considered a failure to operate the vehicle safely.
“The sentence must be such as to reinforce to all road users that driving is a privilege that should be available only to those who abide by the road rules,” she said.
Camilleri’s mobile phone use fell in the mid-range of criminal offending of this type and the judge found he would have been aware he was doing something illegal.
However, his young age, lack of prior convictions, demonstrated remorse and prospects of rehabilitation, contributed to Beckett’s decision in sentencing him.
“These matters are the hardest criminal judges have to deal with as there are very obviously no winners, just tragedy,” she said.
“This offence was born from youth, inexperience and a common belief of young people that they are immortal.”
Beckett heard four victim impact statements given by Thompson’s father, mother, sister and fiance.
She said the statements showed Thompson was a loving, caring, intelligent and empathetic person who was well-loved by her family, friends and students.
“Her death has had a profound impact on those who knew and loved her, and she is clearly missed,” Beckett said.
With time already served, Camilleri is expected to be released on December 3, 2024.
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