Lawyer fined $3000 for crash that killed Bundy siblings
AFTER being told by police that the crash he had caused had claimed the lives of two people, Hervey Bay's Donald George Gayler replied that there was "not much he could do about that".
On Thursday the 66-year-old solicitor pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, causing the crash that claimed the lives of Brisbane siblings Daniel and Sarah Walker.
He was fined $3000 and his licence was disqualified for three months.
The family and friends of Daniel and Sarah Walker travelled from Bundaberg to see Gayler sentenced.
The court heard a momentary lapse of attention had caused the crash when the BMW Gayler was driving north on the Bruce Hwy crossed to the wrong side of the road and struck one vehicle.
The BMW then "rotated several times" before colliding with the Mazda 6 carrying Sarah, 30, her son Sam, 14, Daniel, 22, and their friend Peter Knowles, 25.
Both cars were quickly engulfed by flames, with Gayler and his wife able to escape their vehicle.
Sam and Peter, seriously injured in the Mazda, were pulled free from the wreck, but Daniel and Sarah were killed.
As Police Prosecutor Sergeant Michael Quirk read out the facts of the case, Sarah and Daniel's mother Kerri Walker started sobbing when she heard her children had been incinerated.
Sgt Quirk said the cars had been mechanically inspected and found no faults that may have contributed to the crash.
Sgt Quirk said Sarah, Daniel, Sam and Peter had been visiting family in Bundaberg and were on their way home to Brisbane when the crash happened.
When Gayler was questioned by police after the incident, he said he "did not know what occurred".
The court heard Gayler was returning from a trip overseas with his wife.
The two had been on a plane from England to Hong Kong and then to Adelaide before flying to Brisbane and starting the drive back to Hervey Bay.
But Sgt Quirk said Gayler told police he was not fatigued and he and his wife had stopped two times on their way home, at Caboolture and Caloundra.
Victim impact statements from Kerri, Peter and Victor Bosley, Sarah's fiancé, were given to Acting Magistrate Neil Lavaring.
Barrister Joshua Fenton represented Gayler, telling the court that his client had suffered serious injuries in the crash himself and he was remorseful that his actions had resulted in the deaths of two people.
He said his client had agreed to interviewed by police, despite the fact that he was a solicitor and was aware his statements could be used later in court.
Mr Fenton said Gayler, after 49 years of driving, had committed a mistake in a matter of a few seconds that he was ashamed of.
The court heard Gayler and his wife had lost one of their two children and he had insight into the pain the Walker family was feeling.
Mr Fenton said Gayler's wife had suffered serious injuries and needed surgery after the crash, while Gayler had a broken sternum and a crushed foot.
He spent nine days in hospital recovering after the crash.
He will think about that every day for the rest of his life, especially since he has had to bury a child.
He said while his client was not criminally responsible for the deaths that resulted from the crash, two young people were deceased as a result "because of a few seconds".
"He will think about that every day for the rest of his life, especially since he has had to bury a child."
Mr Fenton argued that Gayler should not lose his licence or have a conviction recorded against him as it was his first offence.
But Magistrate Lavaring disagreed, saying that it was just that Gayler should lose his licence for a time.
He said he had considered whether a prison sentence, either partially served or wholly suspended, was appropriate, but decided it wasn't due to Gayler's mitigating factors.
"Whatever I do doesn't solve the pain of the family who has suffered the loss of these persons," Magistrate Lavaring said.
Magistrate Lavaring said it was one of the worst cases he had seen with a charge of failing to drive with due care and attention.
A conviction was recorded.
In the moments following the judgment, as Gayler walked away from the court house, Mr Bosley confronted him and said "there's not much you could do about it, is there Don?"
Gayler and his wife then walked past the rest of the family and the media gathered at the court house and left in a silver car.