After a Perth bus driver’s momentary lapse of concentration which resulted in the death of a cyclist, the 55 year old Transperth bus driver, Simon Tugwell, received a sentence with no requirement of serving a term of imprisonment.
The incident took place at the busy intersection of Newcastle and Beaufort Streets on October 6 2020. Mr Tugwell needed to make a left hand turn which required him to take the corner wide to make the turn. A momentary lapse of concentration included a failure to check his side mirrors when performing the difficult turning manoeuvre on such a busy intersection.
Mr Tugwell’s failure to check his side mirrors resulted with the 54 year old Mr John Ferrington being hit by Mr Tugwell’s bus while cycling in the left lane, essentially cutting into Mr Ferrington’s path causing the fatal collision.
The State Prosecutor Ms Ashton Garrett submissions included that Mr Ferrington had done all things necessary to cycle safely on the road and that is vital in being visible to all traffic on the roads. Ms Garrett also acknowledged that the particular intersection of the accident scene is known for being dangerous after receiving previous complaints. However, Ms Garrett submitted that should mean that road users should be more aware of checking and driving defensibly to suit the conditions and therefore prevent accidents occurring.
Mr Tugwell’s lawyer, Ms Fiona Hugo, acknowledged that her client should have been aware of the dangerous conditions and although it was just a momentary lapse, accepted this was dangerous to the public and resulted with a devastating consequence in the death of Mr Ferrington. Ms Hugo also described Mr Tugwell as being passionate about his job of being able to serve the public.
However, Ms Hugo submitted that Mr Tugwell’s offence was within the lower end of the scale of seriousness. The offence did not include any aggravating factors of speeding, alcohol or drugs and was not an intentional act. Ms Hugo also submitted that Mr Tugwell was extremely remorseful and no matter what sentence is imposed, Mr Tugwell would be living with the devastating consequences of this momentary lapse in concentration in his own way for the rest of his life.
Her Honour Judge Gillan imposed a two year suspended sentence and disqualified Mr Tugwell from holding a drivers licence for three years. She considered Mr Tugwell’s early guilty plea and that he was not a dangerous risk to the community as he would not be able to drive for a substantial period of time. But she noted that this was not “a free kick” and if he were to reoffend the resentence of Mr Tugwell’s suspended sentence would result in him serving time in prison.
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