02 March 2016

A TRUCK driver found guilty of negligent driving over a fiery crash that killed two people may not be jailed over the deaths.

A jury last month cleared Shane Anthony Day of dangerous driving occasioning death and grievous bodily harm over the 2013 smash at Mona Vale.

On Wednesday, however, Sydney District Court Judge Leonie Flannery found the former Cootes driver guilty of the lesser charge of negligent driving occasioning death.

Judge Flannery said she was satisfied Day was driving too fast and had ignored a sign warning truck drivers to use a low gear when he hurtled down a steep stretch of Mona Vale Road on October 1, 2013.

Day’s fuel tanker flipped, crashed into several cars and burst into flames.

Peter Wem, 73, and passenger Graham Holtfreter, 71, died after trying to flee the inferno.

A third man, Neil Donaldson, was badly burnt.

Crown prosecutor Craig Patrick SC told Judge Flannery that Day’s offence could carry time behind bars.

“However, statistically, only one per cent of these types of offences result in a jail sentence,” he told the court on Wednesday.

“The crown submission will be that it is an extremely serious matter and it will be a discretionary matter for your honour as to where it falls in the range (of objective seriousness).” Day’s barrister Grant Brady SC said his client was keen to learn his fate soon.

“This has been a weighty matter for him for some time,” Mr Brady said.

He had previously argued there was a reasonable possibility Day did brake when he saw the low gear sign, but his brakes failed and the “truck ran away from him”.

But Judge Flannery on Wednesday said she could not accept this, adding she was satisfied Day had been negligent in speeding at 83km/h in a 70km/h zone – where trucks and buses were required to go slower still – in a truck laden with petrol.

She is expected to hand down her sentence on Friday.

Day did not comment as he left the court.

Extracted in full from the Daily Telegraph.