A driver who smoked cannabis and strayed onto the wrong side of the road and killed another motorist will spend three months in jail after having most of his prison term suspended.
Somlith Souvanlasy's lapse in concentration in changing his radio station on a sweeping bend on Melbourne Road, Blairgowrie, had tragic consequences, as his Land Rover veered 1.3 metres over the white line and into the path of Don Peel's car on the morning of March 21, 2010.
Mr Peel, 78, had just left home and was driving his restored Bentley to a car show, but the car enthusiast suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
Souvanlasy, 39, was found to have traces of cannabis in his system after using the drug while on his way home from his parents' home in St Albans, having also smoked marijuana the previous night after a family dinner. He pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving causing death.
County Court judge Liz Gaynor said Souvanlasy had seen Mr Peel's car in the distance but had looked at his radio station as the car approached and maintained the same line of driving.
When he looked up again he did not have time to brake but thought it was Mr Peel who had driven onto the wrong side of the road.
Judge Gaynor said studies had shown cannabis slows reaction times among drivers. The court heard Souvanlasy was driving at 79km/h in an 80km/h zone and Mr Peel was driving at 43km/h.
Judge Gaynor said Mr Peel's death was a "great tragedy" for his family and wide circle of friends, and that he was much-loved father and husband who was "grievously" missed.
But she said sentencing Souvanlasy was difficult, as he was a man of good character and whose genuine remorse extended to him praying at his Buddhist temple for good karma to be bestowed on Mr Peel and his family.
She said she considered wholly suspending his jail term, but could not overlook his use of cannabis.
"At the end of the day you were found with a (level) of cannabis in your blood and whether you appreciate it or not, it was bound to have an impact on your driving," she said.
Judge Gaynor sentenced Souvanlasy to a 15-month jail term, but suspended 12 months of that for 18 months. He also had his licence cancelled for 18 months.