Woman killed partner in unsafe truck move

·2-min read

A Victorian woman who crashed and killed her partner while overtaking a B-double truck at high speed was a licensed truck driver.

Amber Peers was doing at least 128km/h when she slammed on the brakes and lost control of her car near Shepparton in July 2019.

She had already passed two cars in an overtaking lane on the Goulburn Valley Highway when she attempted to pass a truck towards the end of the lane.

The 26-metre long heavy vehicle was already sitting between 100 and 104km/h when Peers began to overtake.

She made it part way alongside one of the trailers when the lane ended and the truck began to merge into the main lane.

Realising she had no room to pass, Peers slammed on the brake and lost control, careening across the oncoming lane, clipping a concrete drain and slamming into a tree.

Her partner, 30-year-old Rowan Penberthy, was in the passenger seat, which bore the brunt of the impact with a tree.

He was killed instantly while Peers suffered minor injuries.

Mr Penberthy's father and sister spoke in a pre-sentence hearing in Victoria's County Court on Tuesday, telling Judge Amanda Chambers that instead of having their son and brother at the Christmas table they'd had to make do with a framed picture.

"Every memory brings a tear. Hopefully those tears will one day be of joy instead of great sadness," Gordon Penberthy said.

Prosecutor David Cordy said reconstruction experts determined Peers was doing at least 128km/h when she braked, and described her actions as entirely deliberate.

"This was not some momentary inattention - she's turned onto the highway ... accelerated to that speed and overtaken vehicles in a deliberate way," he said.

"She herself is the holder of a heavy rigid licence and would understand the size of a B-double and the room needed to overtake it safely."

It was a recipe for disaster, which is ultimately how things turned out, he said.

Peers' lawyer Julien Lowy said she admitted she had been tailgating the truck and immediately recognised that her driving had been unsafe.

"She lives with that today. Her grief is palpable and she is beyond remorseful," he said.

He argued Peers should avoid prison because of diagnosed borderline personality disorder and PTSD. She has had a therapy dog for nearly a decade and could experience increased anxiety in prison worrying about the dog.

Mr Lowy said the burden Peers carries because of the crash is "frankly incomprehensible".

She will be sentenced on February 24.