Grief-stricken over wife's death

A MAN who killed his wife as a result of his negligent driving appeared in the Lismore Local Court yesterday to learn the date he will face his sentence.

Robert Michael Shunwah, 40, of Clayfield in Brisbane, charged with negligent driving occasioning death, told police he was slowing down to pull off Iluka Road at Iluka to change drivers when he misjudged the distance from the side of the road to the verge and lost control of his car.

He crashed the late-model Ford Falcon into a small tree, striking it on the front passenger side, where his wife Jessica was sitting.

The car kept going for another 21 metres and smashed into a larger tree on the same side, coming to a rest five metres further on.

Its front wheel and strut were ripped off and both doors peeled back to the rear of the car.

Shunwah got out and, with one of his two sisters-in-law, who were rear-seat passengers, tried to help his wife, who had a bad gash down the length of her left calf.

Police from Maclean arrived and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter got to the scene soon after.

It was suspected Mrs Shunwah had a broken left leg and internal injuries, and she was flown to Lismore Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

However, during the flight she became pale and clammy and was ill. Her blood pressure dropped and her pulse weakened.

On arrival at the hospital, Mrs Shunwah’s condition deteriorated. The trauma team was called, but despite their desperate attempts she died at 5.35pm – three hours after the accident.

John Weller, appearing for Shunwah, said his client had the burden of knowing he had caused the death of his wife as a result of his driving.

He was undergoing extensive grief counselling, and had references from doctors about his health, Mr Weller said.

Shunwah had the support of his family, and the family of his late wife, he said.

Shunwah had tested negative for alcohol or drugs.

There were no defects in his vehicle. Conditions had been good on the day of the accident, which occurred on a straight stretch of road in an 80km/h zone, about 500 metres south of a T-intersection with Johnsons Lane.

Magistrate Robyn Denes called for a pre-sentencereport yesterday.

Shunwah is due to appear in court for sentence in September.

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