Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Truckie Jailed over Hit-Run Death of Cyclist

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Truckie Jailed over Hit-Run Death of Cyclist

Article excerpt

TRUCK driver Geoffrey Joseph Sleba was drifting in the borderlands between wakefulness and sleep.

Sharing the road ahead of him at 3.14pm on Anzac Day 2014 was Dr Martin Pearson, a passionate cyclist.

Veterinary anaesthetist Dr Pearson was the beloved husband of Sandy Vigar, and father to two children, Brisbane District Court was told yesterday.

But the respected 61-year-old's life ended violently when Sleba hit him with a Freightliner truck on Inglewood-Millmerran Rd in the Darling Downs.

The court heard Sleba had no memory of the tragedy, had sleep apnoea, and had developed psychosis after accidentally fatally shooting his wife a few years earlier.

At Sleba's sentencing yesterday, one of Dr Pearson's relatives called the UQ Gatton lecturer a man with a "quirky sense of humour and penetrating wisdom".

Dr Pearson's death caused "devastation" to family members, prosecutor Sam Bain said.

Mr Bain said Dr Pearson's son now felt any goals he achieved in his own life were "hollow and worthless" without his father's presence.

Sleba, 47, was a professional driver, with a special "duty of care" when driving, Mr Bain said.

Based on expert evidence presented to jurors, Sleba had Dr Pearson in his line of sight for about 13 seconds, Mr Bain said.

But a sleepy Sleba must have had "a long period of dangerous driving" before striking Dr Pearson, he said.

Defence counsel Jeffrey Hunter said Sleba felt terrible about the Anzac Day crash.

"His ability to make that assessment was impaired because he had such long-standing sleep apnoea," the barrister added.

The court heard Sleba accidentally shot his wife during an attempt to find a snake on family property in 2008.

Sleba was not charged for that, and had a good relationship with his late wife's family, Mr Hunter said.

"He was deeply affected by it - and it in fact triggered an episode of psychosis, from which he has recovered," he said. …

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