Truck that crashed into McDonald was ‘overloaded’

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Admon Romel’s truck was overloaded.A truck that crashed into the Fairy Meadow McDonald’s restaurant in 2006, injuring 13 people, was overloaded, a judge has ruled.Wollongong District Court Judge Paul Conlon delivered his judgment on the truck’s weight yesterday during a sentencing hearing for the truck’s driver, Admon Romel.Defence barrister Constantine Miralis had argued that one of the scales used to weigh the truck and load at the crash scene was overdue to be verified, and its reading should have been disregarded.However, there was evidence the scales were verified as working correctly about a month after the 2006 crash.”There is nothing to satisfy the court that the (scales) were working anything other than correctly on December 14,” Judge Conlon said.Romel’s truck and load weighed about 15 tonnes when it should have weighed no more than 11.5 tonnes.”There is a certain lack of precision concerning the weight,” Judge Conlon said. “I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to the precise weight, but (the evidence) does satisfy me beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender’s vehicle was overloaded to a not insignificant degree.”The judgment was part of Romel’s sentencing proceedings after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and bodily harm caused by wilful neglect.The 22-year-old told the court yesterday he did not see either of the two safety ramps on Mt Ousley Rd as he sped towards them.He said when he realised the brakes were not working, he pulled into the right lane to avoid crashing into the back of other trucks.As he approached the bottom of the hill, he said he did not see the safety ramp sign. Instead, he was focused on a sign showing the freeway turning sharply to the right.The Bonnyrigg Heights driver said he feared the Ford Louisville 7000 series would tip over if he continued on to the right. Instead, he drove straight ahead, exiting the freeway because he said the road appeared to rise slightly and he thought it would slow the truck down.”Under the circumstances I was in, I wasn’t aware of any of the safety ramps,” he said. “I was trying to slow the truck down.”Judge Conlon said a prudent truck driver would have been on the lookout for a safety ramp sign on a road as steep as Mt Ousley Rd.”I find it quite amazing that he wouldn’t have been able to see that huge sign that’s on the side of the road,” he said.Romel’s case has been adjourned until December 12 so a psychologist’s report can be prepared. The defence also requested a sentencing options report into alternatives to fulltime imprisonment.
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