'We didn't even get to say goodbye'
WHILE the family and friends of Grafton man Matthew Benson continue to mourn the loss of a son, stepson and brother, their grieving process has not been aided by the apparent lack of remorse shown by the man who collided with him in the fatal 2017 crash.
Mr Benson, 44, was killed when he was hit by another vehicle on the Pacific Highway near Cowper on the morning of August 26, 2017.
Mitchell Jackwitz, 21, from Ipswich, pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death and was sentenced in Coffs Harbour Local Court on Monday.
Magistrate James Gibson sentenced Jackwitz to a 10-month intensive corrections order and 150 hours community service and disqualified Jackwitz's licence for two years.
In a victim impact statement read to the court at sentencing, Mr Benson's mother Robyn Casson said she had been devastated since the loss of her son.
"After nearly two years I cannot believe or understand why he is gone and I will never see his beautiful face again," the statement said.
"When will people learn to take care and pay attention to what they are doing. Driving is a privilege. Please take care when driving. I know there are lots of bad drivers on the roads. Why did Matthew have to be in the path of one?"
His sister, Allison Benson, said the family were shocked at the apparent lack of remorse shown by Jackwitz, who sent an apology after his guilty plea had been accepted.
"It was short and he clearly had not even bothered to ask Mum or (stepfather) Norm's names as he just addressed it to the Benson family. It was entirely unsatisfactory and was used in arguing why his sentence should be lower," she said.
"It would have helped our healing process had he apologised sooner, not wait until the guilty plea was accepted and not do it for the purpose of sentencing.
"Am I satisfied with the sentence? No. Why? Jackwitz is inconvenienced for 24 months, he has the rest of his life to live. We can never speak to Matthew again and we didn't even get to say goodbye."
Despite the lenient sentence, Ms Benson said there was some comfort in the result.
"We were told that momentary inattention cases are hard and that a 12-month loss of licence would likely be all we'd get (had the DPP pursued a more severe charge) so we have to be satisfied with what happened," she said.
"I use 'satisfied' as this does not make us happy but it does feel like something has been done for Matthew."
Ms Benson thanked the "tireless efforts" of the NSW Police Crash Investigation Unit, especially Senior Constable John Dunne, for their work on the case.