A MAN who pleaded guilty to killing his friend through dangerous driving was able to walk free yesterday.
Takashi Nukuto, 31, received a suspended sentence for his part in the tragic accident on Fraser Island which resulted in the death of Takeshi Sakai and broken vertebrae for Emi Yudagawa.
Judge Hugh Botting admitted that time actually spent in custody was the norm in sentencing for the charge of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death; however he said the case was sufficiently "exceptional" to save Nukuto from prison.
The crash occurred on December 13, 2009, when Nukuto was speeding along the Eastern Beach of the island, swerving away from the water when the vehicle hit soft sand and he lost control of it.
The court heard the passengers were not wearing seatbelts and Mr Sakai was sitting with his legs hanging out of the window.
Although Nukuto had seen a 45-minute DVD and a brochure warning of the dangers of driving on Fraser Island, Judge Botting said the warnings were not enough to bring home to Nukuto the "inherent dangers of driving on the beach".
This was because the DVD was in English, although Nukuto watched it with Mr Sakai who spoke English and was supposed to translate for him; while the brochure was in Japanese.
Judge Botting said that because the specific danger of moving from "hard sand" to "soft sand" was not mentioned in the instructional material, Nukuto's culpability was lessened.
He sentenced Nukuto to three years' jail but suspended it immediately.
The court heard Nukuto had apologised to Mr Sakai's mother in Japan.
Sergeant Steve Webb, from the Maryborough Traffic Branch, said now was the time to remember the victims of the accident.
Mr Sakai and Ms Yudagawa were "at the forefront of my mind" Sgt Webb said.
Nukuto left court smiling broadly, but did not wish to make any comment on his case.
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