Highway crash claimed 'heart and soul of family'
PASSIONATE horsewoman and farmer Jessica Voss was killed when her ute, driven by boyfriend Brendan Lincoln, was struck by a semi-trailer in early morning fog.
An Ipswich court this week heard there was heavy fog on the morning of June 23 last year when Lincoln failed to give way as he entered the Cunningham Highway from Coopers Road at Willowbank, about 7am.
Ms Voss, who was only 28, died instantly when the semi-trailer laden with water tanks, struck the Toyota Landcruiser ute from the side. The heavy impact flipped the ute over.
Brendan Thomas Anthony Lincoln, 25, was sentenced to a jail term when he pleaded guilty in the Ipswich District Court to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
The court heard of the terrible and ongoing consequences of losing a highly valued family member, through an emotional victim impact statement written by Jessica's unwell and ageing mother.
Her unselfish care of her ageing parents and the tremendous work and effort she put in at the family farm were read out. In the very early morning hours before her fatal drive Jessica had been up ploughing fields.
The court heard her and Lincoln had known each other for a year and had recently become a couple.
Lincoln, a farm worker and station hand now employed on a cattle property near Mt Isa, looked solemn as he sat in the dock, with his head down and chin in his hands.
Immediately behind him sat Jessica's devastated parents, family and friends.
Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said speed was not a factor in the fatality, but more likely Lincoln's inattention to road and traffic conditions.
Mr Needham said that according to witnesses, when a car in front of Lincoln stopped at the Give Way sign to access the highway, Lincoln accelerated around it.
The ute crossed the highway, narrowly missing another car before it was struck by the truck heading towards Warwick.
Witnesses said it was dark and foggy and street lights were still on.
Mr Needham said it was likely that Lincoln was intending to turn left and should have gone in behind the stopped driver.
He said it was not entirely clear whether he took evasive action, or it had been a lack of attention by not realising he was going onto an intersection with the highway.
Lincoln spent five weeks at the Princess Alexandra hospital afterwards with a severe wrist injury.
In her statement, Jessica's mother revealed the consequences of the tragedy.
Both parents were in ill health and Jessica would help dress her father, do housework, and manage their 160-hectare cattle property.
"Since that morning we have lost the heart and soul of our family,” her mother wrote.
"Without her at home life is so much harder. We struggle without her. On that morning she ploughed up ground to plant hay. She was never able to complete that task.”
Defence barrister Rob Carroll said Lincoln was badly injured in a previous car crash that killed his mother, causing him ongoing issues.
Judge Dennis Lynch said he did not regard Lincoln's inattention as being a momentary lapse, but a more serious lack of attention to the road.
Lincoln was sentenced to two years jail and ordered to serve three months, with the remaining 21 months suspended for two years.
His driving licence was disqualified for 18-months, with a six month disqualification imposed for the offence of driving while unlicensed.