Truckie ac­quit­ted over crash

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Tim Ed­munds

An ex­pe­ri­enced Albany truck driver has been ac­quit­ted of dan­ger­ous driv­ing in a crash which se­ri­ously in­jured a vol­un­teer fire­fighter in Many­peaks two years ago.

Late on Mon­day af­ter­noon, fol­low­ing a six-day trial, an Albany Dis­trict Court jury found Leon Dar­ryl Whit­tle, 56, not guilty of dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing griev­ous bod­ily harm.

Farmer and vol­un­teer fire­fighter Richard Met­calfe was at­tend­ing a fire with son Tim on May 13, 2016, when a prime mover truck driven by Mr Whit­tle col­lided with the sta­tion­ary fire truck parked on the side of Pfeif­fer­Road.

Mr Met­calfe suf­fered lifethreat­en­ing in­juries, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple pelvic frac­tures and a bro­ken leg af­ter be­ing thrown from the fire truck on col­li­sion.

On Mon­day, a jury took close to two hours to ac­quit Mr Whit­tle unan­i­mously af­ter the State’s case failed to prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt his be­hav­iour be­hind the wheel amounted to dan­ger­ous driv­ing.

Fol­low­ing the jury’s ver­dict, Judge Alan Troy said Mr Whit­tle’s driv­ing had been wor­thy of scru­tiny as Mr Met­calfe was “lucky to not be killed” in the “ex­tremely se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent”.

State pros­e­cu­tor Michael Per­rella had ar­gued Mr Whit­tle was trav­el­ling too fast for the con­di­tions and he was driv­ing his prime mover with two trail­ers at 9095km/h through the smoke, de­scribed as “in­her­ently dan­ger­ous”.

Tes­ti­fy­ing last week, Mr Whit­tle, a truck driver of 38 years, de­nied sug­ges­tions from Mr Per­rella he was not driv­ing to the con­di­tions af­ter see­ing smoke from the bush­fire when he turned onto Pfeif­fer Road. Mr Whit­tle told the jury he had gone to turn on his head­lights driv­ing in thin smoke and, within two sec­onds, there was “no warn­ing” and he “couldn’t see any­thing” be­cause of thick smoke, and then the crashed oc­curred.

In his clos­ing sub­mis­sion, Mr Whit­tle’s de­fence lawyer Gary Massey de­scribed the col­li­sion as “ul­ti­mately an ac­ci­dent”, say­ing his client had done ev­ery­thing he could to avoid the col­li­sion.

The trial was ex­pected to last eight days but fin­ished in six.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Truck driver Leon Whit­tle, pic­ture with wife Jen, was found not guilty on Mon­day.

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