Billy Joe Salter, 24, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison in district court, after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and destroying evidence.
Salter was 21 years old when he caused the deaths of 62-year-old Raymond Meadows and his guide dog Jerry while driving along Calder Highway in Wedderborn, northwest Victoria, around 6.30am on June 2, 2019.
The court heard it was getting dark but Mr. Meadows was wearing a high-visibility jacket and backpack with flashing lights as he and his dog walked along the shoulder of the road to the gymnasium.
The dog died almost instantly after being hit by Salter’s car while Mr. Meadows died on the way to the hospital.
Salter stopped at the scene and was not found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
He removed the memory card from his dash cam at the scene and then his friend destroyed it.
For months, he told police that Meadows and his dog had been on the road, but analysis of the scene proved they were on the tar’s shoulder on the road.
Investigations revealed that Salter did not use the brakes or drove the car in the five seconds preceding the accident, using the cruise control to travel at a speed of 94 km / h on a straight road where the speed limit is 100 km / h.
Judge Rosemary Carlin said Salter’s actions showed a “complete abdication” of his responsibility as a driver.
“Driving for five seconds then faster in the dark without exercising absolutely any control over your vehicle and without proper oversight for any reason is irresponsible and risky behaviour,” she said.
Judge Carlin said Salter’s lies about what happened, namely the destruction of dash cam footage, making the cause of the crash “known only to him”, deprived Mr. Meadow’s family of knowing what had happened.
“I refused to tell the truth about what happened and destroyed the only evidence,” she said.
Judge Carlin said the destruction of the footage was “a serious and planned offense”.
The court heard that Salter had an abusive childhood, had health problems and lived with autism spectrum disorder.
He was sentenced to two years unconditionally and three months in prison.