Driver spared jail over 89yo man’s death

A Sydney driver whose father was an innocent victim of a fatal crash decades ago has been spared full-time custody for causing the death of an elderly pedestrian.

Antonino Gagliano, 52, was instead given a two-year jail sentence to be served in the community by way of an intensive corrections order (ICO).

The maintenance electrician had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning the death of grandfather Jerzy Starzyk, 89, in Ashfield in April 2019.

In sentencing him in the NSW District Court on Thursday, Judge Phillip Mahony said Gagliano stopped his Toyota Prado 4WD at a set of red lights.

When the vehicle in front of him went straight ahead after the lights changed, Gagliano turned left despite the turning light being red and the pedestrian “walk” light green.

Mr Starzyk was knocked down on the pedestrian crossing and two sisters crossing from the other side rushed to help, but he died.

Gagliano testified he hadn’t seen any of the pedestrians and to his knowledge didn’t go through a red light, but accepted he did so and apologised.

“I lost my father at 18 years in a motor vehicle accident and understand how upsetting it is,” he said.

He, his mother and his siblings were devastated by the death, which happened after a driver fell asleep at the wheel.

The judge found Gagliano’s offending wasn’t a case of momentary misjudgement or inattention but rather “carelessness which abrogated his responsibility to other road users”.

Gagliano, who was otherwise of good character, genuinely remorseful and had good prospects of rehabilitation, was entitled to a 25 per cent sentence discount for his guilty plea, the judge said.

According to victim impact statements, Mr Starzyk was an active man who was well loved by his family and had plans to travel internationally to meet other family members.

The statements were “a poignant reminder of the wider impact on the community of tragic accidents that occur on our roads”, the judge said.

Judge Mahony disqualified Gagliano from driving for two years and imposed ICO conditions which included being supervised and carrying out 300 hours of community service.

“I have taken into account the question of community safety and find that safety will not be placed at risk given the very low risk of this offender, who has no significant traffic record and is of mature age,” the judge said.

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