Mehdi Sameri struck and killed Mr Waters after experiencing a microsleep. (AAP: David Crosling)
A driver who fell asleep at the wheel moments before he struck and killed a cyclist in Melbourne’s north-west in July has been ordered to serve 10 months’ jail in a youth facility.
- Mehdi Sameri was picking up his boss when he fell asleep, running a red light and striking Colin Waters
- Mr Waters’s family said the sentence was too light
- The judge said Sameri was “riddled with grief and remorse” and had “excellent” prospects for rehabilitation
The County Court of Victoria heard that Mehdi Sameri hit cyclist Colin Waters about 6:30am on July 24 near the Melton Highway at Taylors Lakes.
Sameri, 20, at first fled the scene but later turned himself in to police.
He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene.
Judge Paul Lacava told the court Sameri, a plumber’s apprentice, had experienced a microsleep as he drove to pick up his boss that morning.
He had stopped for coffee.
“You knew you were tired but foolishly pressed on with fateful consequences,” Judge Lacava told Sameri in sentencing.
Not long after, Sameri fell asleep, running a red light and hitting Mr Waters, 49.
“You were awoken by the sound of the impact,” Judge Lacava said.
“A perfectly innocent man on his way to work was killed.”
Members of Mr Waters’s family were in the court for the sentencing.
Judge Lacava took into account a number of victim impact statements, which he said he found very moving.
He noted the family’s “extreme sense of grief and devastation”.
Colin Waters, 49, had come to Australia from the UK on a working visa. (Supplied: Victoria Police)
Colin Waters was “a husband, father, son, sibling and friend who was adored by all,” the judge said.
The court was told Sameri had fled persecution in Iran in 2014, seeking asylum in Australia after coming by boat via Indonesia.
The court heard Sameri was “riddled with grief and remorse”.
Judge Lacava said Sameri had “panicked” after the collision and was anxious about the consequences because of his background as a refugee.
He said Sameri had “excellent” prospects for rehabilitation and was deserving of a measure of mercy.
A week before the incident, Sameri was told he had been accepted as an Australian citizen, but he was unable to attend the ceremony.
He faced the possibility of being returned to Iran at the end of his sentence if he had been sentenced to a total of 12 months or more in prison.
Non-parole periods are not set for youth offenders.
Son mourns ‘the best man in my life’
Mr Waters’s widow Paula said she was “shocked and devastated” by the sentence.
“There’s no justice and we’re really upset,” she said outside court.
His eldest son, Keiran, described his father as “a great man”.
“He was the best man in my life,” he said.
He urged people not to get behind the wheel when they were tired.
“That split second can change lives. This is living proof of that,” he said.
Colin Waters’s brother Stevan Waters, his widow Paula Waters and his eldest son Keiran Waters were in court for the sentencing. (ABC News; Karen Percy)
Mr Waters’s brother Stevan said he was “disappointed” with the sentence.
“Ultimately nothing that he’s going to get is going to bring my brother back … but it just feels a little light,” he said.
“This was completely preventable.
“That day Mr Sameri made some decisions that ultimately cost my brother his life.”
He added that Mr Waters’s widow and youngest son were at risk of deportation because the family who had moved to Australia from the UK two-and-a-half years ago and their visas had been sponsored by his employer.