A Victorian P-plater ploughed into a blind pedestrian and his guide dog and destroyed crucial dashcam footage of the horror crash.
Raymond Meadows and his guide dog were fatally hit as they made their daily walk into Wedderburn, in the state’s northwest, about 6.30am on June 2, 2019.
The 62-year-old was wearing high-visibility gear but he and his dog, Gerry, were thrown onto the Calder Highway.
Mr Meadows died on the way to the hospital from his injuries and his beloved dog died at the scene.
The driver, Billy-Jo Salter, was sentenced to three years and nine months in Victoria’s County Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and destroying evidence.
“Your driving on that morning not only brought an abrupt and violent end to the lives of Mr Meadows and Gerry, it profoundly affected many others,” Judge Rosemary Carlin said in her sentence.
This included Mr Meadows’ wife, their daughter and Mr Salter himself, she said.
“The reason you collided with Mr Meadows and Gerry is known only to you,” Judge Carlin said.
“You have refused to tell the truth about what happened and you destroyed the only evidence – being dashcam footage – which might have shed light on the topic.”
The driver was 21 at the time and had left a friend’s house after a sleepless night.
He crashed into the pair as they walked along the side of the road and flagged down a car after the fatal crash.
“I think I’ve killed someone, I think I hit someone on a bike,” the driver told those in the passing car.
Salter didn’t tell police about the dashcam footage when they showed up and tested negative to preliminary drug and alcohol tests.
Instead, he removed the SD card and told a friend to destroy it, which they did.
The man repeatedly claimed he couldn’t avoid the blind man and his dog because they were in the middle of the road despite being confronted with evidence they were on the side of the road.
The young man also told police he was driving slower because it was foggy and denied being drowsy.
“You obviously decided that you were not going to tell the truth about what happened and destroying the card not only delayed and impeded the investigation, it deprived Mr Meadows’ family of the opportunity to gain some insight into the last moment’s of their loved one’s life and thereby prolonged their anguish,” Judge Carlin said.
The judge said Salter was driving at least 95km/h on a dark country road and for at least five seconds was not exercising any control of his car, which drifted off the road.
It was “highly irresponsible and risky behaviour”, Judge Carlin said.
“There is no convincing evidence you are remorseful,” the judge said.
She took into account Salter’s ADHD and autism spectrum disorder into account in her sentencing and noted that he had an “unstable, abusive and chaotic” upbringing.
Salter, now 24, must spend at least two years and three months behind bars before he is eligible for parole.