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A 22-year-old finance broker has been sent to prison over a tragic car crash in which a momentary lapse of judgment or attention saw his car run a red light and kill a young man.

Caillan Timbrell, a former WAFL player with Peel Thunder, had not been speeding and had a zero alcohol blood level when his car collided with a vehicle driven by Stephen Liddiard who was on his way home from a family get together with his sister Kathryn.

Today, a District Court judge said it would never be known why Timbrell had failed to stop because he had no memory of the crash, but it was accepted he had not intentionally disobeyed the signal about 9.15pm at a Shelley intersection on July 15 last year.

It was a momentary lapse of judgment or attention that had fatal and tragic consequences, Judge Troy Sweeney said, as she jailed Timbrell for 12 months in the difficult case.

Mr Liddiard, a 24-year-old graduate process engineer who also had a zero blood alcohol level, died at the scene of the crash with Kathryn left terribly injured.

"(It was) a moment of criminal behaviour... but the aftermath is so tragic," Judge Sweeney said.

"Your actions have cost a life."

"Motor vehicles might be convenient and we can't do without them but they are lethal weapons."

"Parents have killed their own children, and children their own parents," she said.

Judge Sweeney said if every driver was honest "there will have been times where they didn't pay as much attention as they should have".

Defence lawyer Mark Andrews said the tragic case had ruined the lives of the victims' family. But he asked that his client be spared jail time, highlighting his lack of any traffic or criminal record and his genuine remorse and regret which had left him needing counselling.

Mr Andrews said his client, who was described by witnesses as "dazed" after he was helped out of the windscreen of his rolled vehicle, was anguished and upset that he could not provide an explanation for the collision to the Liddiard family.

The court heard that both young men had bright futures before that night, and that Timbrell had driven the route a hundred times and was in no hurry that Sunday night.

Mr Liddiard's father who had been at the family get-together before the crash, had arrived at the scene to the traumatic sight of both his children in the wreck.

The court heard that Timbrell's parents were also left needing counselling as a result of their son's crash.

Judge Sweeney said while it was very sad to send a young man to jail. But the sentence needed to send a message to the community that driving was a huge responsibility and could have lethal consequences.

Timbrell can apply for parole after serving six months.

Mr Andrews said outside court it was a tragic and unusual case that had left more than a terrible impact on his client.