The West

80yo driver avoids jail over death
Frank Ronald Weston. Picture: The West Australian/Sharon Smith

An 80-year-man remains wracked with guilt after his first-ever traffic offence claimed the life of another man, a Perth court has been told.

Ronald Frank Weston could not remember anything between driving home on the Kwinana Freeway in Baldivis on April 24 last year and being cut from the wreckage of his own vehicle.

Today he was sentenced to a suspended 12-month jail term after admitting his dangerous driving - by inexplicably veering, over-correcting and losing control of his car - had claimed the life of 32-year-old Julian Murphy.

Mr Murphy's family, who have lobbied for better road barriers and oppose the abolition of driving tests for drivers aged 85 and older, today said they we considering a push for a maximum driving age.

Mr Murphy had been driving on the opposite side of the freeway when Weston's Toyota Camry careered through the median strip scrub and collided with his BMW, leaving him with fatal injuries.

The court was told today that witnesses and a crash investigation revealed Weston had not braked or taken evasive action as his car travelled 80m before the impact.

Weston, who had no criminal or traffic record at all, spent a week-and-a-half in hospital for fractured vertebrae where he was eventually informed his actions had killed another driver.

Julian Murphy.

His defence lawyer said today that the Safety Bay grandfather was devastated.

"He had always considered himself a diligent driver," the lawyer said.

"Upon hearing Mr Murphy died, my client was devastated ... he was overcome ... he feels wracked by a sense of personal guilt.

"All he can say ... is that he extends his sincere and heartfelt sympathies to Mr Murphy's family."

Weston did not oppose a lifetime ban against driving, with the court told he had not driven since the fatality and had no plans to do so.

Julian Murphy's parents outside court. Picture: The West Australian/Sharon Smith

The court was told Weston had been driving within the 100km/h speed limit, was not affected by alcohol or fatigued, and had no health issues.

The defence lawyer at one point suggested his client may have lost consciousness or blacked out during the incident, but the judge said he could make no finding as to why there was a failure to brake or evade a collision.

The dangerous driving in the case was specifically the veering and over-correction.

Chief Judge Peter Martino said that while cars were a part of everyday life for many people, "they are also extremely dangerous items of machinery and people must know that if they don't exercise proper care and control when driving then they can cause tragic consequences, as has occurred in this case".

Picture: Seven News

Mr Murphy's grieving family today accepted they may never know why Weston did not brake after over-correcting.

In their opinion, Weston should not have been on the road in the first place.

"The only thing we take some understanding of was his age and the fact that he has driven across that median strip at full speed and I think perhaps points to the fact that he shouldn't have been driving in the first place," Mr Murphy's father, Kevin, said.

"I think his age is absolutely a factor."

Asked whether he believed there should be a maximum driving age, Kevin said: "Look that's something that we are considering and we will pursue that particular issue of older drivers, but we haven't completely formulated our views on that."

Weston was accompanied by supporters as he left the court, but did not comment.

The judge took into account his impeccable character and lack of record and his early guilty plea before deciding his jail term could be suspended.

Mr Murphy's family said the penalty was what they had been expecting.

The West Australian

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