Ex-TV journalist jailed over fatal crash

·2-min read

A former television news journalist will remain behind bars for killing his friend in a car crash while driving almost double the speed limit after drinking bottles of champagne.

Trent Evans, 45, wiped back tears as he was handed a seven-year and 10-month sentence by Melbourne's County Court on Thursday.

He previously pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death after he lost control of his friend Rex Willox's Mercedes in the city's east on February 27 last year.

Evans and Mr Willox spent about four hours drinking champagne together that morning in Toorak, before they decided the former Seven Network reporter should drive as he was the "more sober" one.

Witnesses saw Evans driving at high speed before he lost control of the car on Barkly Avenue in Burnley while trying to turn right at 2.45pm.

The car ploughed into a timber pole, which broke and caused the Mercedes to roll over.

A passer-by rushed to help Mr Willox after the crash, but he died at the scene from his injuries.

Evans recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.1 and was driving at 112km/h, nearly twice the speed limit.

Judge Gregory Lyon said the seriousness of Evans' offending was "very great indeed".

"As a consequence of your level of intoxication, you were incapable of exercising proper control over the car that you were driving," he told the court.

"The speed at which you drove and the alcohol in your system at the time you drove each constitute very serious breaches of the criminal law in their own right."

Evans, who appeared in court via video link and has a personality disorder and PTSD from the crash, has written to Mr Willox's family to express his remorse.

He told them he would never forgive himself for their permanent loss, grief and sadness.

Evans' life descended into chaos after he suffered from a mental health breakdown in 2016 while working as a television news journalist and producer in Queensland, the court previously heard.

He began to have difficulty with his speech, became paranoid and was treated in hospital for two weeks.

He returned to Victoria and tried to continue working as a journalist, but could not cope with the demands of the job.

By 2018, Evans was homeless and dependent on drugs, living in boarding houses and sleeping in shelters where he became the victim of assaults.

He has a criminal history that included previous speeding infringements and drink-driving offences dating back to 2005.

Judge Lyon jailed Evans for seven-years and 10-months, with a non-parole period of five-years and two-months.

His sentence includes 18 days already served and his licence will be disqualified for four years.

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