A Queensland jury deliberated for just 90 minutes to find truck driver Phillip Richard Sturrock, 64, guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of truckie Steve Bowen, 64.
Phone records showed that Sturrock was texting while driving before he lost control of his semi-trailer and collided with Bowen’s truck on the outskirts of Townsville in November 2020.
In the Townsville District Court on Thursday, August 31, Judge William Everson sentenced the Mackay father-of-eight to three years in prison, suspended after 12 months. Sturrock was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver’s licence for two years.
“You drove along the Bruce Highway at speed whilst towing a 14-tonne load whilst fumbling with your phone, or so it would seem,” Judge Everson said.
“The use of mobile telephones by people who are driving is very prevalent and very dangerous, and this is just one instance where it has led to truly tragic and criminal consequences.”
Throughout the four-day trial, Sturrock denied texting and driving and instead said he was blinded by the headlights of the oncoming Kenworth that Bowen was driving for Blenners on a Townsville to Mackay run, reports ABC News.
“You nonetheless were deeply distressed that you had killed this man and taken him from his family,” Judge Everson said.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Bowen’s daughter, Tracey Payne, said receiving news of her father’s death “made [her] world come crashing down”.
“I have moments when driving at night when I come across trucks, something that has never fazed me previously,” she said.
“But now I need to focus on breathing to ensure I do not go into a panic attack, thinking, ‘Is this the last moment he saw?’.”
“I struggle when driving and seeing people on their phones, so oblivious to the impact it can have on so many lives.”
Payne said her father had been a truckie his entire life and had driven the same route between Townsville and Mackay thousands of times before he was killed.
She described Bowen as a beloved father, son, friend, mentor and grandparent to her three sons.
“He was well-known in the trucking community for being fair and honest and just a general good guy,” Payne said.
“Everyone knew and loved him and wanted to be around him.”