Truckie pleads guilty to death
A ROAD train driver who ran a red light and killed a 19-year-old dental nurse near Darwin last June did not see flashing warning lights until it was too late to stop, a court has heard.
Geoffrey Ross Hamilton, 24, originally of Legume just across the border in NSW, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Northern Territory Supreme Court to dangerous driving causing death.
He was driving a road train carrying 170 cattle and weighing more than 115,000kg when he ran the light at the Coolalinga intersection on the Stuart Highway on the rural outskirts of Darwin on the night of June 13 last year.
Hamilton, supported yesterday by parents and Southern Downs transport operators Ross and Jan, gained his road train licence three months before the fatal crash.
He had been driving trucks for about two years in Queensland and came to Darwin last year to work in the busy season, the court heard.
Hamilton’s lawyer Peter Maley said the intersection was “notoriously dangerous” and that even if Hamilton had seen the advance warning lights, the truck would not have stopped until it had gone through the intersection.
Mr Maley said his client did not brake as he went through the intersection because he was concerned about the momentum the cattle would have if he were to brake suddenly.
Prosecutor Paul Usher said Hamilton ran the red light at 78.8kmh and hit victim Karlee McCullough’s white Holden Statesman sedan when she started at the green light about 7pm.
Her car was caught under the cab of the truck and it took two cranes to lift the road train to get to the vehicle, tangled in the chassis.
She was killed instantly.
The tragedy was compounded when 47-year-old father of two Dale Stanton – who stopped at the horrific scene to direct traffic – was struck and killed by another vehicle which careered through the intersection.
The driver of that car, Bradley Dawson, has been charged with dangerous driving causing death and remains on bail while his case progresses through court.
Mr Maley asked acting Justice Trevor Olsson to give Hamilton a suspended prison sentence so he could continue working.
He also told the court his client was “totally and absolutely remorseful” for Ms McCullough’s death.
But the prosecutor told the court Hamilton’s actions showed “a complete disregard” for public safety and he deserved a jail sentence.
Justice Olsson continued Hamilton’s bail until Friday, when he will be sentenced.
Additional reporting and photos courtesy of the Northern Territory News.