Family stripped of life after cop's death

·3-min read

As a police officer, David Vidal has seen many bodies.

But he cannot rid himself of the moment he had to identify his high-achieving son.

"That image of Aaron on the table, lying with his life and soul squeezed out of him, replays in my head again and again," Chief Inspector Vidal told Parramatta District Court on Friday.

"I cannot burn that from my memory."

Constable Aaron Vidal, an expectant father in his dream career alongside his father in the NSW Police Force, was killed on his way home from work in June 2020.

The four-year Army veteran's motorcycle was hit by a car driven by tradie Tommy Balla, who had run a red light in an intersection in Sydney's Hills District.

A few minutes of Balla's time spent waiting at the lights was worth less to the selfish driver than the life of the constable, Chief Insp Vidal said.

"I know he didn't do it with intention (of killing Aaron)," he said.

"But no one on the roads today does not know the potential running a red light could and, in this case, did have."

Chief Insp Vidal told the court how his 28-year-old son's death stripped him of his best friend and passion for policing.

Const Vidal's mother lost a piece of her soul, his broken-hearted younger sister forfeited her empathy while a younger brother was robbed of his best man at a future wedding.

Jessica Loh, widowed by the crash, said her life of excitement had turned to a daily struggle, as she cares for their baby born after the crash.

She recalled receiving a doctor's call confirming the gender of her baby minutes after saying goodbye to her husband at a funeral home.

"I ran back in and held his hand, telling him we're having a boy," Ms Loh said.

Her last message from Const Vidal came minutes before he died and she got dinner ready, waiting for his arrival that never came.

A check of a traffic website sparked her worst nightmare before she drove to the crash site.

While police officers wouldn't tell her if he was OK, Ms Loh quickly saw the answer for herself; the constable's body in the wreckage, his bloodied bag on the ground nearby.

"I felt numb, sick and empty," she said.

"I started thinking I would lose our baby next."

The "violent and meaningless tragedy" left her envious of those in her mothers' group who had husbands to go home to, she said.

"I have a beautiful baby boy and I am very happy to have him in my life," she said.

"But with each exciting milestone, there's a reminder of what's missing."

Balla, 38, shook and broke down in tears as he began giving evidence.

He spoke of being "truly sorry" for the tragedy, apologised to the family and said he'd believed the arrow lights were amber when he crossed the stop line.

But he now accepts the signal was red.

"I put my baby in such danger and everyone else in the community," he said.

"I can't believe it happened."

He challenged the media's portrayal of him, saying he helped strangers and would never try to hurt anyone.

"I am a caring, loving father-of-two with good morals," Balla said.

He will take up an invitation to address participants of traffic offenders programs to save lives and warn how broken rules can "ruin lives very quickly".

Balla's deep remorse, insight, apology, own trauma from the crash and lack of criminal offending meant home detention was an option, his lawyer said.

"Other than what happened that evening, the community is safe from this offender," Rose Khalilizadeh said.

But the Crown submitted running the red arrow was no error but a calculated risk.

The consequence of that risk warranted jail, crown prosecutor Monika Knowles submitted.

Judge Stephen Hanley will sentence Balla on June 22.

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