Sentence for killing not excessive

THE jail sentence imposed on a driver who "inexplicably" turned on a red arrow and killed a motorcyclist should serve as a "salutary reminder to all who undertake the serious responsibility of driving", the Court of Appeal has said.

Justice Margaret McMurdo, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday, ruled the sentence imposed on the Sunshine Coast driver, who grew up in Bundaberg, was not manifestly excessive.

"Drivers must take proper care and remain astute to observe traffic signals and to keep a careful lookout when turning across oncoming traffic," she said.

Matthew Liam Allen, 27, had argued his sentence was manifestly excessive based on his good driving history and a submission that the judge did not give enough consideration to mitigating factors.

He was sentenced, following a trial in Maroochydore District Court, to 18 months jail, with parole after serving nine months, and disqualified from driving for 2.5 years.

Allen was driving a Toyota Landcruiser, with his partner Malinda Byrnes and their baby, north on the Nicklin Way at Buddina on February 28, 2009.

Matthew Caltabiano was riding a motorcycle travelling south.

Allen was in a right-turn lane waiting to turn across the southbound lanes of the Nicklin Way into Point Cartwright Dve.

Allen and his partner have always maintained he turned on a green light.

Eye-witnesses gave differing accounts of what transpired.

The Maroochydore sentencing judge found the jury probably accepted evidence from a taxi driver and his passenger who both testified they saw the four-wheel-drive move on a red light.

Allen was sentenced for failing to keep a proper lookout, the judge finding he had stopped for a red arrow and then inexplicably moved into Caltabiano's path when he thought he had a green arrow.

Defence counsel submitted it was a case of momentary inattention.

The court heard Allen, who grew up in Bundaberg and almost died from meningococcal virus at age 18, stayed at the scene and co-operated with police.

Justice Margaret McMurdo said this was not a rare case where actual time in custody was not warranted.

"The sentence imposed had to reflect the community's disapprobation of this conduct," she said. "Although deterrence does not loom large in this case, as in cases involving alcohol, speed, fatigue or a lengthy period of reckless driving, a deterrent sentence is still apposite as a salutary reminder to all who undertake the serious responsibility of driving a motor vehicles."

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