A Halls Gap man has been sentenced to three years in jail for a crash which resulted in the death of a former Hepburn Shire Council mayor
Stuart Paul Usherwood, 34, was sentenced for dangerous driving causing death in the County Court in Ballarat on Monday.
Former Hepburn Shire Council mayor Rod May died from his injuries a week after the collision on the Daylesford-Ballarat Road near Gong Gong on May 21, 2017.
The court was previously told Usherwood had pulled over to check his GPS, then pulled back onto the road, just as Mr May approached on his motorbike. Mr May struck the side of Usherwood's SUV, and received critical injuries.
Judge Howard Mason sentenced the man to 36 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 24 months. Usherwood has already served 73 days in pre-sentence detention.
Usherwood, who was disqualified from driving at the time of the crash, had driven from Halls Gap to Ballarat to retrieve a bassinet for his newborn daughter, and was driving to Gong Gong to pick up a breast pump his wife had bought on Gumtree as his mother-in-law and friend were unavailable.
The court heard on Monday that the guilty man had been sentenced for unlicensed driving only three months before the crash which killed Mr May, and that Usherwood had previously appeared in court on six other occasions for similar offences.
After the sentencing, Mr May's daughter Carla said she was "relieved" the case was now over. She said the fact Usherwood had previous convictions for unlicensed driving was frustrating and "disappointing"
"But there's not much anger, really. Anger doesn't really get you anywhere," she said.
Mr May's brother Doug said outside court that in this instance "there's no winners, it's tragic".
"We hope he has time to reflect on the implications of his dangerous driving, and he'll take more care in the future on the roads," he said.
The court was told on July 2 traces of methamphetamine and amphetamine were detected in Usherwood's blood after the accident, which the man's defence lawyer Ray Alexander said was due to taking an unknown stimulant pill Usherwood believed was caffeine and said was given to him by backpackers.
Judge Mason told the court that detectives from the Major Collision Investigation Unit has given evidence that due to a "lack of damage to the Ford SUV, and minimal radiator damage to the Ducati", it had been concluded that Mr May's motorbike was not travelling at an excessive speed when the collision occurred.
The County Court judge said that Usherwood making the decision to drive after taking an unknown stimulant was "at best reckless".
Appearing in the court earlier in the month, May's eldest daughter Stephanie said she found out she was pregnant the same day she turned off her father's life support.
"Dad loved his life, and now I cry for my loss and my 15-month-old boy who will never meet him," she said in her victim impact statement.
Judge Mason said Usherwood's wife had said her husband was "exhausted and mentally drained" in the days leading up to the crash, as they faced complications with their unborn baby. The court heard Usherwood's wife blamed herself for the crash, as she was "almost hysterical" about the need for the baby items.
Judge Mason said he accepted Usherwood's letter of apology to the family of Mr May was a "genuine, heartfelt response".
Usherwood's license was also cancelled for two years.
The maximum sentence for dangerous driving was 10 years imprisonment, with a mandatory license disqualification period of at least 18 months.