The parents of City Beach cyclist Tim Anderson who was killed in a hit-and-run accident have described how they are living every parent’s worst nightmare as the man responsible for their son’s death was jailed for five years this morning.
A solemn-looking Ross Thomas Murray, 28, was sentenced to five years and three months jail in the Perth District Court this morning after pleading guilty to aggravated dangerous driving causing death and failing to stop in the March crash which claimed Mr Anderson’s life.
He was sentenced to a concurrent six-month jail term for failing to render assistance and fined $1200 for driving under the influence and driving without authority.
His driver’s licence was disqualified for four years.
Murray will have to serve three years and three months before being considered for parole.
Mr Anderson was cycling home after training for the Albany-to-Perth charity event Ride for Youth about 8pm on March 8 when he was struck from behind on Curtin Avenue by Murray in a Toyota Camry.
Mr Anderson hit the windscreen before landing on the road and his bike broke into pieces.
Murray, of Watermans Bay, fled the scene and abandoned his damaged car more than 1km from where Mr Anderson lay dying.
Mr Anderson died from his injuries a few hours later in hospital.
The court was told that on the afternoon of the accident, Murray had been drinking at a North Fremantle hotel and had been refused service because of his intoxicated state before deciding to drive home.
A breath analysis test estimated Murray’s blood alcohol was 0.171 at the time of the crash.
Mr Anderson’s parents, Ian and Val, and dozens of other relatives and friends crowded into the public gallery for Murray’s sentencing.
Many were visibly upset at various times during today’s court proceedings.
In a heart-wrenching victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Anderson’s voice wavered at times as he told the court of the toll his son’s death had taken on their family.
Mr Anderson revealed Tim’s body had been so badly damaged in the accident that doctors told them his organs were unsuitable for donation.
“No parent should ever have to see their child die, especially in such terrible circumstances,” he said.
“To lose Tim at only 26 with his whole life stretching out ahead has devastated the whole family and his friends. It is difficult, if not, impossible to come to terms with Tim’s death until we have some understanding of the final events.
“We once had the perfect life with everything to look forward to, we spent time planning the future, aiming to spend more time with our children and grandchildren, more time cycling.
“Now our life is miserable and we cling to each other trying to go on.
“My retirement years are daunting, with a fear they will be dominated by the absence of Tim.
“I doubt that it will ever get any better, but perhaps in time, we may learn how to cope better.”
Defence lawyer Sam Vandongen said Murray, a father of two, accepted he had caused utter devastation to the Anderson family and understood an immediate term of imprisonment was the only appropriate sentence.
Mr Vandongen said his client’s memory of the night was “patchy”.
He told the court the former army corporal, who was once a talented gymnast who had represented the State, had devoted himself to counselling and was extremely remorseful and accepted he was the “sole cause” of the tragedy.
“He said to me ‘I would do anything to take (that) night back',” Mr Vandongen told the court.
Outside court, Mr and Mrs Anderson said today’s ruling offered their family no comfort or solace and no sentence would change the tragic circumstances of their beloved son’s death.
Mr and Mrs Anderson said they hoped lessons could be learnt from their son’s death.
“We encourage the community to improve road safety by discouraging drink driving and also changing the relationship between vehicles and bikes,” Ian Anderson said.
In sentencing Murray, District Court judge Anthony Derrick said Tim Anderson’s death had completely devastated his family and by drinking and driving Murray had “exposed himself to the risk of making the stupid and fatal” decision he did.
“Somewhere in the back of your mind, there should have been the limited realisation that you should not have been driving your vehicle, but nonetheless, you did,” Judge Derrick said.
Judge Derrick said Murray’s decision to drive on after hitting Tim Anderson showed “moral culpability” and he did not accept Murray’s claims that he did not at first realise he had hit a person.
Judge Derrick said he was satisfied Murray was “genuinely sorry” for what he had done and the tragic loss he caused the Anderson family.
The Andersons said they would honour Tim and highlight the importance of responsible driving and improving cycling safety by holding a ride in Tim’s memory on November 10.