Deadly petrol tanker crash; defence blames truck, not driver
The Mona Vale truck crash driver charged with negligent driving which led to the death of two men will learn next week if he will stand trial before a jury.
Cootes truck driver Shane Anthony Day’s committal hearing at Downing Centre Local Court concluded today after the tanker crash on Mona Vale Rd that also injured five others when it burst into flames on October 1, 2013.
The 47-year-old Wagga Wagga man was charged with multiple offences including two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death.
On Wednesday the court heard from the defence that faulty brakes caused the crash and not high-speed, negligent driving as put forward by police investigators.
In its final submissions, the Crown argued that since Mr Day had driven the truck for two months, he should have known the condition of the brakes when he drove from Silverwater to Mona Vale that fateful day.
“If they were that bad, why didn’t he take action or, if he did, why didn’t he approach the hill properly in low-gear,” prosecutor Mark Finlay asked.
To focus on the worn-out brakes was “to not look at the bigger picture” when gears and secondary brakes were also available to navigate the hill.
“He was driving too fast for the circumstances,” Mr Finlay said.
The Crown argued that even if Mr Day did not see a road sign instructing heavy vehicles to use low-gear, he should have drawn on his own experience to drive the truck to the conditions.
Drawing on the expert testimony of collision expert Robert Ruller, Mr Finlay said, “the making of this collision commenced at the top of the hill – if the accused had been in the right gear nothing would have happened.”
The defence in its final submissions said the Crown case could not “extricate” the defective brakes from Mr Day’s driving.
“Defective brakes could not reduce the revs to reduce the speed to get in a lower gear – the two are intertwined,” defence lawyer Dennis Miralis said.
He cited the Roads and Maritime Services inspection of the truck, which found it had 16 defects in its six wheels, including brakes that were beyond replacement or needed replacement.
“It is impossible for a driver to know if his brakes are beyond a serviceable limit – that is for a mechanic,” Mr Miralis said.
“The overwhelming evidence supports it was a defective truck.”
Mr Day being “deprived of a truck which was mechanically effective” meant that “criminal culpability could not properly be attached”.
Mr Miralis said there was no evidence Mr Day deliberately sped down the hill and his brakes did not allow him “the choices a truck driver is entitled to” in an emergency situation.
The decision will be handed down on May 6.
Extracted in full from the Daily Telegraph.