A DRIVER who admitted to causing a fatal crash in Castlemaine has been sentenced to 10 years and three months in jail.
Michael Garry Suckling, 41, appeared in the County Court on Friday after pleading guilty to culpable driving causing death, negligently causing serious injury, reckless conduct endangering life, and failing to stop and render assistance.
Suckling was driving the car that crashed into a power pole at the corner of Forest and Urquhart streets in central Castlemaine on January 6, 2018.
The court heard Suckling was driving west on Forest Street when he passed over the double lines in the middle of the road.
As the vehicle came to a sweeping left bend, Suckling lost control of the car and crashed into an electricity pole.
The court heard the car was travelling about 89km/h in a 60km/h zone when Suckling hit the brakes. It is believed the vehicle was travelling at 55km/h when the car collided with the pole.
One of his passengers, 39-year-old Kenneth Butler, was killed in the crash. The two other people in the vehicle were injured but survived.
The court heard Suckling left the scene of the crash, walking about 200 metres to go to a bottle shop. A bystander followed Suckling and told police.
Suckling underwent a preliminary breath test at the crash scene where he produced a blood alcohol reading of 0.035.
He was arrested and taken to the Castlemaine Police Station where he refused a second breath test. Police found he had a small amount of cannabis in his possession.
The court heard Suckling had been behaving erratically in the hours leading up to the collision.
He was seen speeding and doing burnouts near the Castlemaine Railway Station and other parts of central Castlemaine.
The court heard sometime before the collision Suckling was at a house with a friend.
Suckling, who had been drinking throughout the day, took what was believed to be Valium tablets and became irrational and violent.
The court heard he threw a shovel at the window of the property, which resulted in a cut to his friend's leg.
Suckling decided to drive the friend to the hospital, and picked up another two other passengers on the way.
It was on that drive that Suckling lost control of the car while speeding and crashed into an electricity pole.
Judge Michael Bourke said Suckling's offending was "extremely serious", and that the consequences of Suckling's behaviour have been "dire and damaging" to a number of people.
The Judge acknowledged Suckling had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity which demonstrated genuine remorse.
Judge Bourke also noted Suckling had been diagnosed with depression, Bell's Palsy, and a number of physical injuries that would make his time in prison more difficult.
But Judge Bourke said the sentence needed to reflect the extreme seriousness of the charges.
Suckling was sentenced to 10 years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of seven years.
If he had not pleaded guilty, Suckling would have been sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Suckling has already served 878 days in pre-sentence detention.
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