Truck driver jailed for 18 months over death of Danielle McGrath​

David Grice has been jailed for at least 18 months over the crash that killed Danielle McGrath at Caringbah in 2016. Picture: AAP
David Grice has been jailed for at least 18 months over the crash that killed Danielle McGrath at Caringbah in 2016. Picture: AAP

The truck driver who hit and killed 26-year-old shire woman Danielle McGrath while she crossed a road at Caringbah in 2016 has been jailed for at least 18 months.

David William Edward Grice previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death over the collision that killed Ms McGrath.

Outside court Ms McGrath’s father, Bill McGrath, said the family were taking stock of the court’s ruling.

“It’s a very sensitive matter for us,” Mr McGrath told the media.

“We just abide by the Crown’s decision and we’ll just go from there.

“We’re just happy that Danielle had her day in court.”

Bill McGrath addresses the media outside the NSW District Court in Sydney today. Picture: AAP

Bill McGrath addresses the media outside the NSW District Court in Sydney today. Picture: AAP

Earlier this month, a sentencing hearing at the District Court in Sydney heard Grice, 60, was driving along Port Hacking Road about 7.30am on November 8, 2016 when he stopped at an intersection to turn right onto The Kingsway.

The light turned green for traffic going straight ahead, but the arrow for right-hand turns remained red. 

Grice turned right, hitting Ms McGrath, who was on a pedestrian crossing with a green "walk" sign.

The court heard Grice, a truck driver of more than 20 years, did not look at the traffic lights when he turned the fully loaded, 47-tonne truck around the corner and had a "sense of urgency" in "trying to get out of everybody’s way".

Under cross-examination, Grice admitted he did not turn his head to look at the pedestrian crossing, to see if someone was there.

He first realised he had hit someone when he "heard a noise at the side of the truck".

"I saw the blouse of a lady and I panicked and immediately tried to pull over and render assistance," Grice said.

In a letter to the McGrath family, which he read out in court, Grice said he was "grieved to the depths of my being" knowing he was responsible for taking away their "precious girl".

"My heart is crushed," he said. "I am devastated that my judgment has done so much damage to so many people and lives."

Danielle McGrath with her partner Aaron Roberts.  Photo: Facebook

Danielle McGrath with her partner Aaron Roberts. Photo: Facebook

In a victim impact statement, Ms McGrath's boyfriend of six years Aaron Roberts said he was the first family member to arrive at the crash site, and was confronted with his girlfriend's body under a sheet and her handbag and belongings "strewn across the road".

He said he would never forget the "excruciating" and harrowing experience of making multiple phone calls to her family to tell them she was dead.

"I've lost the brightest part of my day, my best friend, and my future wife," Mr Roberts said. "I've lost my soul mate. The loss of Danielle has left me devastated, with a massive hole in my heart I will now carry for the rest of my life."

Since her death, a memorial seat has been dedicated to her at the place where Mr Roberts had planned to propose.

Bill McGrath, said at the sentencing hearing earlier this month that his life "changed forever" when his wife received the phone call on November 8 informing them Ms McGrath had died.

"I will never forget the screams Helen let out when she collapsed in the backyard," Mr McGrath said.

"Every day since, my wife cries herself to sleep and wakes up the same. She sleeps with a piece of Danielle’s clothing under her head for comfort.

"To say Danielle will be remembered forever is an understatement," Mr McGrath said. "She is truly one of a kind."

In sentencing today, District Court judge Peter Maiden said it was “difficult to understand why Grice did not see the red arrow”.

“This was a very difficult intersection that required drivers to be vigilant,” the judge said.

“He didn’t look hard enough to see Ms McGrath.

‘‘The offender had at least seven seconds to look around from the vehicle he was controlling.”

Grice had previously had his licence cancelled for speeding, and was twice booked for using his mobile phone while driving a truck, the court heard earlier this month.

Judge Maiden said today that as a pedestrian Danielle McGrath had done everything right, “she acted appropriately walking briskly as she crossed a seven lane road”.

He sentenced Grice to a maximum of 31-and-a-half months in jail, with a non-parole period of 18 months.