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WA truckie Michael Knowler jailed for killing Victorian mum Jessica West, son Deighton

On a sunny day after Christmas two years ago, Jessica and Anthony West decided to take their young sons to swim and play at their grandparents’ house.

The Bendigo couple thought it would be cooler in Ballarat, where Ms West’s family lived, and a good chance for them and their boys Deighton and Oakley to catch up with family.

But just after midday on December 29, their family was ripped apart by a truck driver’s failure to give way.

Michael Knowler was jailed on Wednesday for smashing into the family’s car, killing Ms West and five-year-old Deighton.

Oakley, then nine, suffered significant injuries including a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic amnesia.

Knowler, a truck driver from Western Australia, was looking at his phone GPS in the lead-up to the crash. He was unfamiliar with the area.

He didn’t realise there was a give way sign ahead and by the time he realised and saw the Wests’ car it was too late.

“I probably was going too fast at that point. Well obviously I was ‘cause I should’ve been able to stop,” he told police afterwards.

He crashed into the side of the family’s SUV, causing it to roll several times.

Ms West and her youngest son shared an infectious character, a love of music and a way of making people feel welcome. They died instantly.

Deighton had been weeks away from starting prep at the primary school where Ms West was a teacher.

Victorian County Court Judge George Georgiou said the crash had a tragic, profound and lasting impact on many people.

Mr West said the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing didn’t change the fact his family had been destroyed.

“My beautiful family of four was tragically cut in half,” he said.

“The sound of my wife screaming moments before impact is the last thing I heard her say. That scream lives with me every day.”

Judge Georgiou said it weighed heavily in Knowler’s favour that the 60-year-old had co-operated with police.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of dangerous driving causing death and one of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

“In your letter of apology you say you are truly sorry for the grief Mr West and his family endure every day and that you accept full responsibility,” he said.

Knowler was jailed for two years and seven months.

With time served he’ll be eligible for parole in four months.

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