The scene of the fatal accident on the Bruce Highway near Torbanlea in November 2008.
The scene of the fatal accident on the Bruce Highway near Torbanlea in November 2008. File photo

Six years for killer driver

A 24-YEAR-OLD man who killed his best friend when he fell asleep at the wheel and smashed into a tree was yesterday sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

David Schafer was carrying four passengers on the morning of November 17, 2008: his best friend Ross Del Carlo, Mr Carlo's partner Sharon Scott, the couple's two-year-old son and a female friend.

The Maryborough District Court heard the Gin Gin residents were on their way to Brisbane as Mr Carlo had to make a court appearance.

However, they only made it as far as Torbanlea.

Schafer, later found to be under the influence of methamphetamines and cannabis, fell asleep at the wheel about 7am, causing the car to travel off the road and into a tree.

Mr Carlo was killed on impact; his partner and child severely injured. Schafer and the female friend escaped with minor injuries.

“It's a miracle that anyone survived,” Judge Hugh Botting said.

Crown prosecutor Ron Swanwick said Schafer, who admitted he “smoked a bit of weed and had a bit of speed” the night before, was probably in the withdrawal phase when the accident happened.

But Schafer told officers that he wasn't drowsy at any point before the accident - despite only having one hour of sleep.

Defence barrister Lars Falcongreen told the court Schafer had spiralled into depression after the accident.

He said Schafer considered Mr Carlo his best mate - and they had consumed speed together the night before the crash.

“There isn't a day that goes by when he doesn't think about what he's done.”

The court heard Mr Carlo had been addicted to amphetamines for much of his youth but had made many steps to turn his life around while being held in custody.

Schafer pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death while affected by an intoxicating substance. A parole eligibility date of August 12, 2011, was set.

Judge Botting declared 406 days of pre-sentence custody as time already served. Schafer's licence was disqualified for seven years.



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