Sydney truckie who killed teen spared jail

Greta Stonehouse
·3-min read

A Sydney truck driver found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a 16-year-old boy has returned to his family after being spared jail time.

In delivering his verdict in the District Court on Friday, judge John Pickering told George Kyriakidis when he finally gets his licence back "don't ever, ever take a shortcut home".

The 45-year-old Panania man is to serve a community corrections order for two years, along with other conditions including supervision from Bankstown Community Corrections centre.

If he commits any traffic offences after receiving his licence back in 12 months, he will be back in court.

Judge Pickering said some people may consider his decision lenient, but that he lived in the real world as a sentencing judge and had to deliver "individualised justice, not in-theory justice".

He said the general public could be hypocritical in condemning traffic offences in court, while simultaneously committing their own on their drive home.

Over a six-day trial, Kyriakidis had pleaded not guilty to other offences including negligent driving and not keeping left of a median strip and motor vehicle, but these were later withdrawn when he a jury convicted him for dangerous driving.

The judge and the Crown both acknowledged Kyriakidis' visible distress throughout the trial and his shock viewed on camera footage taken straight after the crash.

Crown prosecutor Mark Hay noted that following a comment he made in passing that "nobody in court nor the Crown suggested he deliberately had run over the young boy," Kyriakidis visibly "choked up".

Kyriakidis had no prior criminal convictions, an "excellent" traffic history, especially for a professional driver, the judge noted, and was a great family man.

"I well understand the horrible situation he finds himself in," he said, but that his sentence "must reflect the loss of human life, and how important it is".

In a victim impact statement, the boy's mother said her family's life had forever changed since his death, and she still cries with pain which still feels so large, the court heard.

She hopes to "protect her remaining loves ones as I failed to protect my late son".

In August 2018, Kyriakidis was driving his 11-tonne tipper truck home and had slowed down almost to a crawling pace near a busy Bankstown street junction before making an illegal right-hand turn.

At the same time a school student had run from a nature strip diagonally across lanes of traffic to get to his home in a street nearby, also making an illegal crossing.

The Crown accused Kyriakidis - who was on a phone call via a hands-free device at the time of the crash - of being distracted and rushed.

Judge Pickering said like many great tragedies in life, two unfortunate things happened at the same time.

He said Kyriakidis made a "selfish" and "quick decision" to break the law but had no reasonable expectation a pedestrian would be crossing at that section of the road at that time.

But he also said the teenager fairly assumed the truck had stopped and it was safe for him to move, albeit not at a pedestrian crossing.

Kyriakidis said he heard a "boomp, boomp, boomp" before parking his truck and asking witnesses "where did he come from?".

Judge Pickering said after sitting through the trial he now questioned how he himself crossed the road, and the assumptions pedestrians made about cars and drivers.

He told Kyriakidis he needed to start "forgiving himself" and ordered he continue receiving psychological treatment to help deal with his persistent feelings of self-condemnation and intense grief over the boy's death.

He also acknowledged his life had been permanently altered by his decision to take a shortcut home that day, and was already serving "a greater personal punishment" than any other he could be brought to bear.