A DRIVER who struck and killed a legally blind man in Wedderburn has been jailed for more than three years.
Billy-Jo Salter, 24, was sentenced in the County Court on Thursday after he last month pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 62-year-old Raymond Meadows.
Mr Meadows was walking along the Calder Highway with his guide dog Gerry on June 2, 2019, when Salter crashed into the pair.
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In court, Salter was rubbing his face and chest as Judge Rosemary Carlin described the 24-year-old's driving as "highly irresponsible and risky".
"It was clearly more than momentary inattention," Judge Carlin said.
"Your driving not only brought to an abrupt and violent end the lives of Mr Meadows and Gerry, but it also had a profound effect on many others."
The court heard about 6.30am on June 2, Salter was driving a Toyota Corolla along the Calder Highway towards Inglewood after spending the night at a friend's place.
At that time, Mr Meadows - who was wearing a high vis vest and a backpack with flashing lights - was starting his morning walk with Gerry.
As Salter drove south-east along Calder, he struck Mr Meadows and Gerry near the intersection with the Wedderburn Junction Road.
The court heard Salter stopped his car nearby, got out, and waved down a passing vehicle for help. He told witnesses, "I think I've killed someone".
Mr Meadows' wife heard the sounds of the collision and attended the scene, which was only a short distance away from her house. Police and paramedics also arrived.
Mr Meadows was critically injured in the crash and airlifted to hospital but he died in transit. Gerry died almost instantly.
Salter underwent a preliminary breath test and an oral fluid test, which both returned negative results.
The 24-year-old told police Mr Meadows had appeared in the middle of the road in front of his car and he could not avoid a collision.
But the court heard scene reconstruction experts were able to confirm that Mr Meadows and Gerry were not in the middle of the road. The pair were instead walking on the bitumen shoulder of the highway.
Investigators were able to retrieve data from the Toyota's airbag control module, which showed the last five seconds prior to the crash.
They were able to determine that Salter was using cruise control and travelling at a constant speed of 94km/h.
Salter did not brake or move the steering wheel in the final five seconds before the collision.
Investigators concluded that as a result, Salter would have naturally drifted to the left and struck Mr Meadows and Gerry.
The court heard there was a dash cam device installed in the Toyota at the time of the collision. Salter took the SD card out of the camera and told his friend to destroy the evidence.
In her sentencing remarks, Judge Carlin said she accepted Salter had diagnosed ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, which made it difficult for him to express empathy.
But the judge said a psychologist had determined Salter did have the capacity to understand what was right and wrong.
Judge Carlin said Salter continued to lie to investigators about the circumstances of the collision, which prolonged the Meadows' family's anguish and grief.
The judge said Salter also knew that the destruction of the SD card would impede the criminal investigation.
Judge Carlin said in sentencing, Salter would receive some discount for his guilty plea although there would be no discount for remorse.
"Quite simply, there is no convincing evidence that you are remorseful," the judge said.
Judge Carlin said Salter had "reasonable" prospects of rehabilitation and she needed to consider that jail would be particularly burdensome for the 24-year-old, given his intellectual and cognitive impairments.
But the judge said his sentence needed to show the community that dangerous driving that results in death would result in a significant punishment.
Salter was convicted and sentenced to three years and nine months in prison, with a non-parole period of two years and three months. His two days of pre-sentence detention were reckoned as already served.
Salter's licence was cancelled and he was disqualified from driving for four years.
If he did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for five years with a non-parole period of three years and six months.
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