Two men have been jailed for a minimum of seven years over a high-speed street race that resulted in the death of a popular Wagga father.
Joshua Aaron Byrne, 22, of Ashmont, and Matthew Thomas Cahill, 20, of Batlow, were each sentenced to an additional parole period of three-and-a-half years in Wagga District Court on Friday after they had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Craig Smith, 53, died instantly when a VE Commodore driven by Byrne ploughed into his vehicle in Coleman Street on October 23, 2017. At the time, Mr Smith had been making a legal U-turn and was not involved in the race.
The force of the impact almost completely ripped the tray from the cab of Mr Smith's ute, while the transmission in Byrne's Commodore was detached.
Judge Gordon Lerve described the matter as a significant tragedy on a number of levels.
"The life of a completely innocent person has been lost through the deliberate, reckless and thoughtless, but moreover criminal, conduct of these two offenders," Judge Lerve said.
"The family of the deceased are understandably devastated and have been deprived of a loving husband and father."
Judge Lerve said Byrne and Cahill would be spending many years in jail and "have effectively ruined a substantial part of what ought to be the best years of their lives".
"This tragedy could have been so easily avoided. All that was needed to avoid the tragedy in this matter was a moment's reflection at the traffic lights at the intersection of Coleman and Edmondson streets, Wagga, from either or preferably both of the offenders," he said.
The court had been told at an earlier hearing that the race had not been pre-planned.
"These two offenders deliberately embarked upon what was serious criminal conduct. That conduct was also particularly and inherently dangerous conduct in deciding to have that impromptu street race on a public street in suburban Wagga and then continuing that race reaching the speeds that they did," Judge Lerve said.
"That criminal, deliberate and inherently dangerous conduct had the most tragic of consequences."
Cahill and Byrne, who both had passengers in their cars, were taking a break from their automotive course at TAFE just before 10am and stopped at a red light.
When the light turned green, they began racing each other.
At some point before the crash, Byrne crossed to the incorrect side of the road to overtake Cahill's vehicle, but at the time of the crash he was in the correct lane.
Judge Lerve said the facts from the case noted that two-and-a-half seconds prior to the airbag on Byrne's vehicle being deployed, it was recorded as travelling at 143 kilometres an hour.
Half a second prior to the airbag going off, the vehicle was recorded as travelling at 130km/h.
Cahill's top speed "would not have been less than 100km/h".
Judge Lerve said members of Mr Smith's family had delivered victim impacts statements to a previous hearing.
"One can only hope that the offenders were listening carefully as those statements were read to the court, in order that they might have an understanding as to the devastating effect their conduct had on so many people," he said.
"Craig Smith was a much-loved husband and father and a well-regarded citizen who was going about his daily affairs when the criminal and highly dangerous conduct of these two offenders cut his life short."
Judge Lerve found both Byrne, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Cahill were remorseful and had good prospects for rehabilitation.