A fatigued and drug-affected driver who caused a fatal four car crash in which a 91-year-old taxi passenger was killed has been jailed for more than four years.
Geoffrey William Wood, 48, fell asleep at the wheel of his Nissan Navara in the seconds before he smashed into a taxi from behind on Safety Bay Road in Warnbro in October 2015.
On impact, the taxi slid sideways into the car in front and rolled onto its roof, trapping the driver and his elderly passenger Clarence Anderson inside.
Mr Anderson, who was on his way home after eye surgery, was pulled from the car and rushed to hospital but he later died of his injuries.
The taxi driver suffered spinal injuries and lost half an ear, but he has now made a full recovery.
Wood pleaded guilty to a string of charges including dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and driving while impaired by drugs.
Prosecutor James Nicholls told the District Court sentencing hearing that Wood had smoked synthetic cannabis on the day before the crash.
A blood test indicated Wood had traces of the prohibited drug in his system at the time of the collision but Mr Nicholls said it was difficult to prove it was a direct cause of the crash.
It was revealed Wood involved in a similar car crash in Dawesville two months prior in August 2015 when he fell asleep at the wheel and drifted off the road, only waking when he hit a concrete wall.
Wood, who was found with 2.8g of synthetic cannabis in his car, also tested positive for the drug.
Defence lawyer Terry Dobson said Wood had struggled with losing his job and the break-up of his marriage and turned to synthetic cannabis to “take his mind off his troubles”.
Mr Dobson said his client accepted he was not in a state to drive before the fatal crash because he was stressed and had not slept the night before.
“He was so physically and mentally worn down, he should not have been behind the wheel, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
Sentencing Wood to four years and three months behind bars, Judge Bruce Goetze said there was “no other explanation” for the collision other than that the 48-year-old fell asleep.
Judge Goetze said Wood failed in his duty as a driver to recognise he was tired and to pull off the road.
“People just don’t suddenly fall off to sleep,” he said.
“People know that they are fatigued and need to make allowances for that fatigue.
“It’s a risk that other members of the community ought not to face.”
Wood was also handed $1550 in fines and his driver’s license was disqualified for two years.