Ex-cop jailed over fatal Tas car crash

·3-min read

A former Tasmanian police officer showed a "terrible error of judgement" when he drove at high speed through a red light and crashed, killing a NSW man who was holidaying with his wife.

Aaron Tasman Bonner, 41, was on Friday jailed for three years over the crash in Launceston on the evening of January 6, 2020.

Father-of-three Anthony Campbell had finished a lifelong dream to sail the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and was walking with wife Bernice, who was celebrating her 40th birthday.

Bonner's marked police car flipped and spun after it "T-boned" another car at the intersection, hitting the couple.

Mr Campbell died on the way to hospital, while Mrs Campbell underwent emergency surgery in a critical condition.

"My life and my body were smashed to pieces," she told the Supreme Court in Hobart.

"It was a glorious week of freedom and spontaneity (of) exploring, walking in nature. In an instant it was all gone."

Bonner was in a parking lot about 100m from the intersection when he responded to a call for assistance at a mental health incident.

By the time he reached the intersection, he was travelling at 89km/h in a 50km/h zone.

"For the five seconds prior to the collision you were effectively accelerating as hard as you could," Justice Robert Pearce told Bonner.

"What occurred was a terrible error of judgment. You drove as you did because you thought you were doing your duty. What occurred was a gross breach of your duty."

Mrs Campbell spent weeks in a coma with catastrophic injuries including a broken pelvis, and nearly died. She requires a walking stick and can't use stairs without assistance.

Mrs Campbell said she lost her soulmate, describing Anthony as a loving dad who was full of adventure. The pair had made plans to retire in Tasmania.

"He was my best friend. My world, my life. Who do I tell my good news to? Who do I turn to after a bad day for a hug?" she said.

"Memories cannot hold my hand ... tell me it's going to be alright."

The court was told Bonner, an acting sergeant who joined the police force in 2007, was responding to a call that was not urgent.

Justice Pearce said Bonner had "plenty of time" to see the red light and that the oncoming car, containing a family, had "no chance" of avoiding a collision.

Bonner, who was stood down and has since resigned, earlier pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.

Justice Pearce said Bonner, also a father-of-three, was overcome by remorse and was aware of the devastating impact of his actions.

Mr Campbell's father, Bruce, told the court he had lost his best friend.

"He was a good son, brother, husband. He would have been a good grandfather, had he been given a chance."

Mrs Campbell told the court she didn't have the energy to be angry.

"I am confident that you acted with no intent to hurt us. I do feel for you and the burden of guilt you must carry," she said.

Bonner will be eligible for parole after spending 18 months in prison and won't be allowed to drive for two years after his release.

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