A former Tasmania Police officer has been sentenced to three years in prison for a crash that killed a pedestrian in January 2020.
- The judge said he was “satisfied” Aaron Tasman Bonner was “overcome by remorse and are intensely aware of the impact of [his] actions”
- The prosecution argued the offending amounted to a “breach of trust with the community and erodes public confidence in the police”
- The court heard Bonner spends most of his days thinking about the crash and the impact on the victims and their families
New South Wales man Anthony Robert Campbell was killed and his wife Bernice Campbell severely injured when they were hit by police car while walking on a footpath in central Launceston on January 6, 2020.
The driver of the police car, Aaron Tasman Bonner, was responding to a non-urgent call when he sped through a red light and collided with another car, which sent his vehicle out of control and onto the footpath.
He previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.
Justice Robert Pearce said Bonner had shown a terrible error of judgment and seriously breached his duty of care to members of the public.
He said Ms Campbell would suffer severe life-long physical and psychological harms.
He ordered that Bonner not be eligible for parole until he had served half his sentence, and disqualified him from driving for two years after his release.
Wife of deceased man says her life and body have been ‘smashed’
Mrs Campbell read out a victim impact statement in the Supreme Court in Hobart, in which she said she had lost her best friend and soulmate, with her three children losing a loving father.
Mrs Campbell said memories of her husband did not comfort her.
Ms Campbell suffered a broken pelvis and nerve damage and was in a coma for about a week after the crash. She spent two months in hospital, later using a wheelchair and now walks with a cane.
“My life and my body were smashed to pieces,” she told the court.
“I can’t adequately describe the anguish I felt when I was wheeled up to his coffin.”
She said she does not have enough energy to harbor anger towards Bonner.
“I think perhaps I’ve forgiven you,” she said.
Victim’s family say crash eroded faith in police
The court also heard victim impact statements from Mr Campbell’s father, mother and sister.
His mother, Anne Campbell, said her son was “snatched away by a reckless, avoidable act.”
“How can it be that he was killed by a policeman?” she said.
Mr Campbell’s sister, Alison Howard, also said her trust in police had been eroded.
“Sadly the world to me no longer seems to be such a safe place,” she said.
“I eleven trusted figures of authority like police to act reliably and safely.”
Mr Campbell’s father, Bruce Campbell, said his son was a good man who volunteered his time to help people less fortunately than him, and he now lives with a deep sadness.
“It is a terrible burden to know I will never hear my beloved son call me Dad, or my wife, Mum,” he said.
Bonner remorseful, says lawyer
Crown prosecutor Emily Stone told the court Bonner was driving at about 89 kilometers per hour in a 50kph zone when the collision happened.
She said he had his vehicle’s emergency lights on, but only activated the siren briefly.
“The accused placed a significant number of people at risk as a result of his dangerous driving,” she said.
Bonner’s lawyer, Patrick O’Halloran, said his client was extremely remorseful for his actions.
He said Bonner told a psychiatrist he spent most of his days thinking about the crash and the impact on the victims and their families.
“Mr Bonner joined the police to protect the public,” he said.
“He’s now consumed by the thought that he is responsible for a person’s death.”
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