The mother of a young boy who was killed when a truck driver with sleep apnoea crashed into their car says she will not get to hear “Happy Mother’s Day” from her son on Sunday or ever again.
- Four-year-old Blake Corney died when the truck Akis Livas was driving struck his parents’ car on the Monaro Highway in Canberra
- Livas had twice been referred for tests for sleep apnoea, but had not acted on them
- Blake’s parents say would be “surprised” if Livas’s sentence “met community expectations”
Truck driver Akis Livas, 57, was on Friday sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court to jail and a driving ban, having pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death over the July 2018 crash.
Four-year-old Blake Corney died from catastrophic head injuries when Livas’s truck struck his parents’ car in a line of traffic at a red light on the Monaro Highway in Canberra.
Livas had told medical workers at the time that he had blacked out, but it was later found he had twice been referred for tests for sleep apnoea, but had not acted on them.
Prosecutor Soraya Saikal-Skea told the court that Livas’s culpability was high as “the offender knew he had a sleep disorder”.
“But it was a preventable tragedy. The offender knew he had been referred to have [his sleep apnoea] tested.”
Despite this knowledge, Livas had still applied for a truck-driving job, and had chosen to drive the truck on the day, Ms Saikal-Skea said.
“That decision was grossly negligent,” she said.
‘We are lost because we are not whole’
The key question in the case concerned Livas’s degree of culpability.
Livas’s lawyer, Steve Whybrow, agreed it had to be given considerable weight.
But he said his client had not taken any drugs, and was not affected by alcohol.
Mr Whybrow said there was also no evidence of sleep deprivation, and there were questions as to whether Livas really knew the dangers of untreated apnoea.
Livas had not followed up a doctor’s recommendation, but was not the first person to do that, Mr Whybrow said.
He also presented the court with Livas’s letter of apology, expressing remorse.
Ms Saikal-Skea said there was no doubt Livas was significantly remorseful for causing the death of a child, but the letter did not show he took responsibility.
During the sentencing hearing, Blake’s mother Camille Jago told the court her son was a happy child with a zest for life who loved jigsaws and watering his own vegetable garden.
“We are lost because we are not whole,” Ms Jago said.
Blake’s father, Andrew Corney, told the court of the horrifying moment he found his son had died from head injuries.
“I feel great fear, anger, and distrust,” Mr Corney said.
“Hope left me at that site.”
‘He is forever four’
Outside court Mr Corney said he would be “surprised” if Livas’s sentence “would meet community expectations”.
“Talk to your local member or prospective candidate at the next election,” he said.
“Parliament is the place to change these things to meet community expectations regarding what sentences are imposed.”
Ms Jago echoed those sentiments, saying “our justice system puts the rights of defendants above the rights of victims”.
“As a society we should ponder this and see if we can come up with a new solution,” she said.
“Blake would be six years old in a few weeks and instead he is forever four.”
In sentencing Livas to three years and three months in jail, Justice David Mossop acknowledged the suffering.
“Nothing can make up for the raw suffering of the family. A family … innocently and happily driving to the shops,” he said.
He acknowledged the sentencing process did little to address the awfulness of the situation.
Livas will serve a non-parole period of two years and three months and will be banned from driving until he can show he is not a danger to others on the road.