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Prosecution urges jail for driver who caused fatal Monaro Highway crash

A Canberra magistrate has been urged to lock up a driver who  caused a fatal collision in busy ski traffic on the Monaro Highway.

David Frank Cassar​, 32, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to a charge of negligent driving causing death.

But the defence and prosecution could not agree on the facts of the case.

The prosecution argued Cassar, of Bermagui, had been using his phone when his Toyota Hilux collided with the rear of a stationary Toyota Corolla at the intersection of Old Cooma Road in Royalla in August 2014.

But the defence said Cassar had momentarily turned his head to speak with his young daughter before the crash.

The passenger of the Corolla, a 25-year-old man, suffered fatal injuries and died in Canberra Hospital days later.


Magistrate Peter Dingwall on Wednesday found the court had heard no definitive evidence to refute Cassar's claims.

The magistrate said it had been likely he had been inattentive for about 3½ to six seconds.

Mr Dingwall said Cassar's negligence involved taking his eyes off the road, in heavy traffic, while driving at 100km/h.

Six members of the victim's family read victim impact statements to the court on Wednesday.

The court heard the victim, whose name has not been published at his family's request, had been planning to marry his long-term partner, have children, and buy and renovate a home.

His partner described him as a kind, loving and amazing man.

She said he had been a safe and considerate driver who would have hated to die at the hands of a distracted motorist.

The woman described seeing his "blank stare" and bloodied head after the accident, an image which continued to haunt her.

She told the court she now suffered from both physical and mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety attacks.

She described how her "crippling despair" and overwhelming grief meant her life no longer had direction, goals, or plans.

The victim's parents also described the pride they had felt in seeing their son grow into a kind and dependable man.

"He deserved a long and happy life," his mother said.

In sentencing submissions, prosecutor Trent Hickey argued Cassar should be sentenced to a period of full-time imprisonment.

Mr Hickey argued it had not been a momentary lapse in concentration, but an "outrageous period of inattention" with a high degree of culpability.

Mr Hickey likened to estimated three to six second period at 100km/h to driving blindfolded for one-and-a-half football fields.

"The only result of travelling at that speed is death, nothing is surer," Mr Hickey said.

But defence barrister Jack Pappas argued his client had shown genuine remorse, and a suspended jail sentence would be appropriate.

Mr Pappas said Cassar had no criminal history, now suffered from PTSD, and had unsuccessfully attempted to make contact with the victim's family in order to apologise.

Mr Dingwall will hand down sentence next month.