A DISTRICT Court jury this week acquitted a Gympie worker of criminal responsibility in a fatal crash at Cooroy two years ago.
The Maroochydore Court was told that Jayson Matthew Fleming, 23, was driving home from Gympie after 11 days of work when he fell asleep at the wheel only 10 minutes from his parents’ home.
Carolyn Adams, 52, died when her van and Mr Fleming’s four-wheel-drive vehicle collided on a 100km stretch of Elm Street at Cooroy, just before 2pm on June 12, 2008.
Mr Fleming had pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing death.
He had told the Court he usually worked 10 to 11 hours a day but had only worked six hours that day and did not feel so tired that he should not drive home.
“I was driving home, coming down the same road I’ve always driven down,” he said in evidence.
“I came around two corners but I don’t remember going around the corners.
“I just remember opening my eyes and I was on the straight.
“There was a car in front of me.
“I grabbed the wheel and tried to avoid it but I was too close.
“I didn’t brake at all. I grabbed the steering wheel and swerved in the opposite direction.”
Fleming told the Court he felt “physically tired, like I’d had a big day at work.”
However, he said he did not feel he needed to sleep or was so tired he should not have driven.
Daniel Adams, a truck driver not related to Ms Adams, told the Court he had arrived as the van was still rocking from the impact.
He said Mr Fleming was visibly distressed and told him he had nodded off.
A police officer also told the Court that Mr Fleming had told him he was drowsy.
A vehicle inspector said neither vehicle had mechanical issues that would have contributed to the accident.
Defence barrister Simon Lewis asked the jury to use common sense when deliberating on Wednesday of this week.
“Mr Fleming is a young man who will have to carry this with him every day,” Mr Lewis told the Maroochydore jury.
“Unintentionally and inadvertently, he has caused the death of Carolyn Adams and that is a tragedy,” he said.
“He was a young man, making his way in the world.
“He wasn’t drunk, he had a zero level of alcohol. He’s not a young hoon.
“You can’t look at this tragedy and think that just because this lady is dead somebody must be blamed. Accidents happen.”
He said the jury had to decide whether his client was so tired that, by driving, he was a danger to the public.
“People fall asleep for very short periods while driving, without warning.”
Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis argued that Mr Fleming’s actions were dangerous because he knew he was tired and did not stop driving.
Mr Fleming is a young man who will have to carry this with him every day