THE parents of a Sunshine Coast couple killed after they were struck by a drifting car have welcomed a not-guilty verdict for the driver, saying the elderly man had suffered enough.
“We are very relieved for him,” Bob Sherwell said of driver Norman George Dipple.
“I did not think he should have to go (to trial). At least he can live the rest of his life without going to jail.”
Mr Dipple, 76, had pleaded not guilty in Maroochydore District Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Allan and Kari Taylor on August 19 last year.
The Taylors’ death sent shockwaves across not only the Coast but around Australia and abroad.
Allan was a popular school chaplain and surfer while his wife Kari was an adored dance school teacher.
More than 3000 people attended their funeral service.
Kari’s parents Bob and Fran Sherwell, also well known through the Coast church community, told the Daily they never wanted Mr Dipple charged.
“We just have compassion for the man,” Mrs Sherwell said.
“We are just sorry he had to go through (the court case). It must have been horrible for him.”
Mr Sherwell said Mr Dipple had to live with what happened for the rest of his life.
“That’s a sentence in itself.”
Mr Dipple maintained he did not see Allan and Kari Taylor standing behind their parked car until the split second before he crashed into them.
He told the court on Wednesday he was dazzled after he looked into the setting sun.
It took his car only five seconds to drift off the Sunshine Motorway and plough into the couple, who had parked their car in an emergency bay to go to the aid of their daughter, whose car had broken down.
A doctor, who specialises in the area, had told the court he expected the recovery time after looking at the sun at that time would be 1.8 seconds to 2.8 seconds.
He relied on a study on the brightness of the headlights, using four intensities of light, and based his conclusion on Mr Dipple looking at the sun for three quarters of a second.
“As far as I’ve been able to find I’m not aware of a paper that gives any accurate test on blinding when looking at the sun because it’s not an easy test to do; you could injure people very seriously,” he said.
The court had heard a 25-year-old would take 1.4 seconds to recover from glare while a 55-year-old would take 2.3 seconds to recover, noting Mr Dipple was 75 at the time.
Crown prosecutor Greg Cummins suggested comparing a study using headlights in the dark to a daylight scenario with sun and shadows was like comparing “apples and oranges”.
“The only rational inference if you put all the pieces together is that (Mr Dipple) was not paying any attention,” he said.
Defence barrister Mark O’Sullivan had argued his client was dazzled by the sun in an extraordinary emergency.
He said Mr Dipple had then operated the vehicle the best he could in the circumstances.
The jury began deliberating about 3.40pm and had reached a verdict by 5pm.
Judge David Andrews had told them dismiss any feelings of sympathy or prejudice for Mr Dipple, who had prostate cancer, or the families of the Taylors. “No such emotion has any place in this case.”
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