Robert James Fagan pleads guilty to negligent driving causing crash on New England Highway at Timbumburi, south of Tamworth

THE driver who caused a highway pile-up which seriously injured a woman south of Tamworth has escaped conviction.

Robert James Fagan was behind the wheel of a Volkswagon Touareg on October 6, last year, when it slammed into the back of a Honda attempting to turn off the New England Highway.

The force of the crash, just south of Timbumburi, saw the Honda slam head-on into the path of an oncoming Nissan.

Fagan pleaded guilty in Tamworth Local Court this week to negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Solicitor Andrew O’Halloran said his client was headed to Murrurundi on the day in question, following a Subaru “that was varying his speed in front of him” and also was “aware of a motorbike really travelling on his coat tails".

“Suddenly and without notice, the black Subaru moved [to the left] … suddenly this Honda, beige-coloured Honda was stopped on the road,” he told the court.

“There was just no time, he put his foot on the brake.”

There was just no time, he put his foot on the brake.

Solicitor Andrew O'Halloran

Mr O’Halloran said Fagan didn’t see any “brake lights on the Subaru” and said his client wasn’t speeding, or tired, was using his mirrors, but failed to keep a safe distance.

“It’s a stark reminder of how easy an accident can unfold,” he said.

The court heard Fagan immediately went to assist the injured woman but was “unbalanced, he got a head injury himself,”. He was “deeply troubled” by the crash and had since sent an apology letter to the injured woman.

Crash scene: Emergency services work to treat the woman trapped in the Honda near Timbumburi on October 6, last year. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Crash scene: Emergency services work to treat the woman trapped in the Honda near Timbumburi on October 6, last year. Photo: Gareth Gardner

The court was told the 65-year-old had held a driver’s licence for 48 years and travelled up to 60,000km per year in his job in the agricultural sector.

Mr O’Halloran said his client was involved with Meals on Wheels, had co-operated with police and was extremely remorseful, adding it had “really played hard on him in many ways".

Acting magistrate Mal MacPherson said he was concerned by speeding offences on Fagan’s record, particularly because speed contributed to a “number of deaths, particularly in the country”.

“He’s accepted that he is responsible in a sense that he was travelling far too close to the black [vehicle]”, he said.

It’s probably a miracle by some degree that someone wasn’t killed.

Acting Magistrate Mal MacPherson

“It’s probably a miracle by some degree that someone wasn’t killed.

“It’s clear from the references and the letter to the lady, it’s had a devastating effect on you.”

Mr MacPherson placed Fagan on a two-year Section 10 good behaviour bond without a conviction.

“It’s a timely reminder in relation to the management of motor vehicles on the road and how accidents can easily come about,” Mr MacPherson said.

“What I've heard is there a number of things happening.”