09-02-2021, 05:49 AM
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Pastoralist with Loaded Cattle Truck Crashes into a Caravan, Killing 2 Parents
| |A pastoralist whose loaded cattle truck crashed into a caravan, killing two parents on a family holiday in Western Australia's north, has been sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison.
Kimberly Thomas De Pledge, 49, stood trial in the WA District Court and was found guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths of M. and L. D. in June 2017.
The couple's children J., then aged 16, and L, 14, survived the crash and climbed out of the vehicle.
The court heard De Pledge had been driving a truck carrying 180 cattle from Hooley Station to Broome when he failed to adequately slow down for roadworks and hit the caravan.
Judge Amanda Burrows said De Pledge's lack of attention to roadwork signs meant he failed to brake sufficiently to maintain a safe distance from the caravan.
He hit the brakes heavily and urgently when he saw the caravan's brake lights but he was too close to the caravan, she said.
The court heard De Pledge had previously offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving.
Defence counsel Sam Vandongen said many of the 71 character reference letters had described the father of three as hard-working, respected, honest and a man of integrity.
Mr Vandongen said a trust fund had been set up for the victim's children, which demonstrated his client's acceptance of responsibility and remorse.
Judge Burrows said the victims were in the prime of their lives when tragedy struck unexpectedly.
But she noted the children, now aged 19 and 16, felt no animosity towards De Pledge.
"To lose both parents and be present is something no one person should ever have to experience," she said.
"The impact has no doubt been devastating and will be ongoing.
"They are quite remarkable young people."
Judge Burrows acknowledged De Pledge had been a mentor to young people and had been involved in community work, saying he had been consistently described as an outstanding member of the community.
She also accepted he was remorseful and had showed victim empathy.
De Pledge must serve at least 23 months behind bars before he can be eligible for parole.
He will also be banned from driving for two years.