DPP v Fetalaiga [2020] VCC 1695

Sentence summary: Culpable driving

A killer truck driver was jailed for six years after he struck a student while drunk on his way home from work.

Kerasoma Fetalaiga, 31, pleaded guilty to one charge of culpable driving causing death and was sentenced to six years behind bars with a non-parole period of three years and three months.

The offender was travelling home along the three lane Frankston-Dandenong Road when he attempted to overtake another truck and struck 19-year-old student Vishal Mahant.

A police search of the truck revealed five empty cans of bourbon and coke in the refrigerated centre console of the truck, with a sixth open can in the cabin of the truck.

It was accepted the offender’s blood alcohol reading at the time was .076.

The victim was about to enter the driver’s seat of his car that was legally parked in the left lane.

Multiple witnesses said they saw the offender driving very close to the back of the other truck in the lead up to the incident.

CCTV showed the offender had been travelling at more than 80km/h in the 60 zone at the time of the offending.

Expert analysis of the crash indicated the offender had made attempts to stop and swerve out of the way of the victim based on the skid marks and damage to the vehicles from the scene.

The presiding judge said the gravity of the offence weighed heavily into the decision.

“It is important that you understand, Mr Fetalaiga, that the impact your offending has caused will be a substantial consideration to be taken into account in formulating the sentence that must now be imposed on you,” the judge said.

The victim’s father told the court in a victim impact statement of his pain and sorrow since losing his son.

“Losing him in such a sudden manner is probably the worst way that fate has dealt its hands,” he said.

“He was our only hope of taking the family forward and he was the kindest soul we have ever known.”

The judge said the offender’s plea of guilty as well as the lengthy court matter had reduced the sentence.

The weight of possible deportation and his partner’s passing also contributed to the final sentence that was handed down, the court heard.

The offender was disqualified from driving for two years.

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Page last updated: 4 May 2020