A British widower has spoken of his grief after his “soul mate of 40 years” was killed when a truck driver crashed into their stationary car in Australia.
Truck driver Peter Buckley, 62, from Mount Gambier in South Australia, was found guilty last month after a trial in Warrnambool County Court of culpable driving causing death, and of four counts of negligent driving causing serious injury.
The incident took place in the Portland area of Australia in 2018.
The family of the victim, 57, gave testimony at a plea hearing in Melbourne County Court on Wednesday.
The couple have not been identified, though they are known to be from the UK. The husband was also seriously injured in the crash.
The crash happened when the 60-tonne B-double driven by Buckley collided with three cars stopped at roadworks on Portland-Nelson Road.
Family members appeared via video link from England to read out their victim impact statements.
Her husband, who was also injured in the crash, spoke of the heartache it had caused to him and his family.
“I have no choice but to accept that my life will be without my soul mate of 40 years,” he said.
“My conversations with her now unanswered but the reply anticipated all the same; our travel plans dashed, the will to seek out adventure now all but disappeared.
“Meal times are a solitary confinement. My morning walk without direction, my return home a sentence.”
The man said he continued to suffer spinal injuries and was receiving therapy for lower back and ankle problems.
He said his initial feelings of sympathy towards Buckley had turned to anger after hearing evidence from the trial that the truck driver had concealed a medical condition and his lax use of medication to alleviate seizures.
Two of the women’s daughters spoke of regular flashbacks of being told of their mother’s death, as well as nightmares, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
“By far the happiest memory I have with my mum is the first time I handed her grandson to her,” one daughter said.
“She looked at him in complete awe. She caressed his head and held his tiny hand and then she looked at me, tears rolling down her face, and said ‘thank you — you never need to give me another present again. He’s perfect and all I’ve ever wanted’.”
One of the other victims, whose statement was read by prosecutor David Cordy, outlined how he had spent eight weeks in two Melbourne hospitals after the crash.
The man has had a left knee replacement and there is a possibility his right knee will also need replacing, the court was told.
Buckley has been remanded in custody to reappear for sentencing on August 11.