IF Giovanni Varagnolo had one weakness it was his generosity, a trait that some people could take advantage of.
But no one thought that the 54-year-old’s life would end because of an act of kindness. Mr Varagnolo, of New Lambton, was walking home on New Year’s Eve last year when he was hit by his own car, run over and killed.
The man behind the wheel was 45-year-old Ivan William Johnson-Geale, a friend who had borrowed the car from Mr Varaganolo a week before and who, a few hours earlier, had declined to pick Mr Varagnolo up from the Newcastle CBD. Johnson-Geale has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing death. He faced a sentence hearing in Newcastle District Court on Friday, during which Mr Varagolo’s children wept through emotional victim impact statements, which outlined their dad’s kindness and willingness to help anyone and everyone.
“His biggest weakness was that he was too kind and sometimes people took advantage of that,” Steven Dumbrell said.
“Our dad was such a giving person,” Alyx Varagnolo said. “If he had it he would give it to you.” Johnson-Geale was doing 80km/h in a residential area and was “in a rush to get home and start drinking” when he tried to light a cigarette near the intersection of Railway Road and Wickham Street at New Lambton about 2.45am on New Year’s Day.
Mr Varagnolo, who had returned to New Lambton on public transport, stepped out onto the road to flag down his car as he heard it approach. Standing under the street light, Mr Varagnolo was wearing a white t-shirt and waving his hand, but Johnson-Geale didn’t see him until he had reached the intersection. He braked and swerved, but collided heavily with Mr Varagnolo, who fell onto the roadway.
His passenger asked Johnson-Geale if he was going to stop, but he accelerated away, running over the seriously injured Mr Varagnolo.
He then drove the car to Mr Varagnolo’s house and parked it in his driveway.
Johnson-Geale spent his first night in jail on Friday.
He will be sentenced on Monday.