A NEWCASTLE truck driver who took his eyes off the M1 motorway to look for a thermos of coffee before slamming into cars stopped in traffic - killing two men - is behind bars.
Defence barrister Paul Rowe told Gosford District Court Samuel McLean would live with the guilt of what he'd done for the rest of his life and had a "profound sense of remorse".
Mr Rowe said the 31-year-old, who was remanded in custody after a sentencing hearing on Thursday, knew it was inevitable he'd be jailed.
McLean had been driving a B double Mack truck carting grain in July 2018 when he looked up, saw the stationary traffic and braked heavily. But he had no chance of stopping before crashing into a ute at the back of the queue at Calga, west of Gosford.
The truck rode up on to the back tray of the ute causing the vehicle to burst into flames, killing Adam Langford, 51, and his nephew, Jack Langford.
Mr Rowe said it would not be asserted the crash was a result of "mere momentary inattention".
Judge Tanya Bright said McLean's culpability was high given he must not have been paying attention for some time after reaching for the thermos. He failed to see the slowing or stationary traffic in front of him, she said.
Peter Langford told the court in a victim impact statement his brother, Adam, had been a joker who made everyone laugh.
"We lost one of the good guys that day through no fault of his own," Mr Langford said. He said his son, Jack, would have turned 21 in February 2020 and he had been looking forward to giving a speech about how much he loved and respected the apprentice cabinet maker.
"Sadly, that will never be," he said.
McLean, from Wallsend, pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.
He passed a sign at the Mount White weigh station 4.5 kilometres from the crash scene which read "Queued traffic. Kariong off-ramp. Prepare to stop". He was travelling at 95 to 100km/h when the crash happened before 5pm.
Witnesses Alexander and Patricia Dengate were driving south on the M1 when they saw the truck in the left-hand lane. Ms Dengate told her husband: "Oh my God, that fellow is not going to stop. He's not even slowing down."
When McLean was arrested he told police: "I was just driving down the hill, coming along the bridge I felt a bit thirsty. I looked down to reach for my coffee. It was to my left within reach. I looked up and saw a car in front of me. I just hit it. I don't even know if I braked."
He's due to be sentenced on February 14.
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