PRISON FOR DRIVER
Tourist handed five-year sentence after fatal Airlie Beach crash
POLICE did not find a man killed by a drunk Israeli tourist driving in Airlie Beach last year until hours after they attended the scene, a court has been told.
Omer Itshaky, 24, was last Friday sentenced in the Brisbane District Court after pleading guilty to possession of dangerous drugs, dangerous driving causing death while intoxicated and failing to provide a breath test.
The former Israeli soldier was jailed for five years after killing Kevin Bankier, 46, as he walked home after spending the night with friends at the local yacht club on November 5, 2017.
The court heard Itshaky, who returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.120 after the incident, and had been seen swerving on Shute Harbour Rd shortly before he veered into a turning lane and hit Mr Bankier.
Itshaky’s van then lost control over a traffic island until it stopped in a nearby drain culvert, the court heard.
Forensic evidence showed the vehicle had not braked during the crash and it was likely Itshaky had fallen asleep at the wheel because of his intoxication.
The then 23-year-old had been travelling to a nearby caravan park after finishing work at Hog’s Breath Cafe that evening.
He had broken up with his girlfriend the day before.
The court heard when police found Itshaky in the vehicle after the crash, he denied driving the car, saying a friend was behind the wheel.
Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker said the crown could not prove Itshaky knew he had struck the 46-year-old man.
“This is consistent with (Itshaky) having lost consciousness,” she said.
“Police arrived at the scene after being alerted to it’s presence because of a taxi driver who flagged them down.
“Witnesses who saw him swerving on the road and stopped to render assistance also did not realise (Mr Bankier) had been struck.
“Ultimately police attended shortly after 3am, unfortunately (he) wasn’t found by them. An hour later the second unit of police arrived and it was found someone had been killed.”
In a victim impact statement tendered to the court, Mr Bankier’s mother said her life would “never be the same” and now takes anti-depressants.
Defence barrister Jason Todman told the court his client suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after combat service in the Israeli army.
He said Itshaky only became aware he had killed someone at the watchhouse and his remorse was “deep and heartfelt”.
“My client fully accepts the facts, fully accepts his blood alcohol level,” Mr Todman said.
In sentencing, Judge Paul Smith said it was likely Itshaky would suffer hardship while in jail because his family, which lives in Israel, would be unable to visit him.
“... These are very difficult cases because no doubt, Mr Itshaky, it’s had a significant effect on you as well, because you will have to live with this for the rest of your life,” he said.
“... On the other hand, someone was killed and you made the conscious decision to, while affected by liquor, get behind the wheel.”
The 24-year-old was also disqualified from driving for four years.
Itshaky’s jail sentence will be suspended for five years after 18 months jail has been served.
❝a ... it’s had significant effect on you as well, because you will have to live with this for the rest of your life.