The family of a man killed by a truck driver in a 2017 accident near Coleraine have spoken about the trauma of losing their husband and father.
Shane Murrell was 56, driving east along the Glenelg Highway on the morning of March 30, 2017, when the rear trailer on the B-double Andrew James McKay was driving swung out and struck his vehicle.
He died at the scene.
McKay, 33, pleaded guilty one charge of dangerous driving causing death at the County Court in Ballarat on Tuesday.
Mr Murrell's wife, son, and daughter submitted victim impact statements for the hearing, which resolved instead of proceeding to a trial.
Ms Murrell's wife said she felt like she was still waiting for him to come back from a fishing trip with his mates - they had planned holidays together, and it was "painful" unpacking everything just weeks before they were about to set out.
"It hurts so much that I never got to say goodbye," she said in her statement.
His son noted his son, Mr Murrell's grandson, will never know his Pa.
"I don't want other children to know that loss because it is sometimes unbearable," he said in his statement.
Mr Murrell's daughter said the family had learned to forgive McKay.
"At first, my family wished horrible things upon you, as our minds were blank and full of hatred - now we all see accidents happen," she said in her statement.
"For your children's sake, we wish to not send you to jail.
"Learn to cherish those we love, grow stronger together as families, and never take anything for granted."
McKay's defence lawyer noted he had no prior convictions or incidents, and had been driving heavy vehicles, including road trains, for years.
He said McKay had strong links to the community, being a farmer north of Ballarat and a 16-year CFA volunteer.
"He has an enviable driving record without blemish, a driver of large trucks, including road trains, for many hundreds of thousands of kilometres without incident," his lawyer told the court.
"In my submission, it's a case with particular circumstances, and a community corrections order can be imposed."
The court was told investigators concluded McKay was driving his truck slightly above the 80km/h speed advisory at the time of the accident, and had used trailer brakes instead of the truck's foot brake to slow down.
As the truck navigated a downhill leftward bend, McKay hit the trailer brakes, but as the rear trailer was unloaded and not connected to the anti-lock braking system, its wheels locked, and momentum caused it to swing into the opposite lane and smashing into Mr Murrell's vehicle, before snapping out of its fifth wheel jaws and unhooking completely.
McKay stopped at the scene, flagged down passers-by, and called 000.
Judge Liz Gaynor said it was an unusual failure, and noted it was at the "lower end of seriousness".
"I want to make it very clear, when a judge refers to an offence being at the lower end of the scale, that is not in any way a trivialisation of the incident itself, it is part of a sentencing judge's duties to assess where a particular piece of offending falls on the scale of seriousness applicable to that particular charge," she explained.
"When I say it is accepted by the prosecution that this offending falls at lower end of the scale of seriousness for the offence of dangerous driving causing death, that simply means there are many other cases where persons who have been charged with the charge of dangerous driving causing death have exhibited much more serious behavior in the driving that made up that offending."
She noted the "moving" victim impact statements from Mr Murrell's family, as well as the references for McKay.
"This is one of those cases where unusually it is conceded by prosecution that despite the tragic outcome of the collision, the court need not proceed to term of imprisonment," she said.
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"I am satisfied you are remorseful, a person of impeccable prior history."
McKay was sentenced to a 16-month community corrections order, and must carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work.
His licence will be suspended for 18 months, to begin next month after the birth of his child.
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