IT was a simple driving error with deadly consequences.
It was the type of mistake that, according to Grafton District Court Judge Charteris, most drivers will make with little consequence.
But the error that Craig Fenton made on July 5, 2004, contributed to a crash that claimed the life of Clarence cricket identity George Harvey and almost cost his own life.
The Grafton District Court heard yesterday that Fenton was driving north on the Pacific Highway at Tyndale on that morning and put on his right-hand indicator to turn up a side road.
Another vehicle travelling behind Fenton slowed and was to overtake his vehicle on the inside road shoulder.
A third vehicle, a truck, was travelling at speed behind.
The court was told that for reasons unknown, Fenton veered to the left when the second vehicle was passing. They collided, and the truck veered to the right to avoid the collision.
The truck, which the court heard should have slowed, headed toward an oncoming bus. Mr Harvey, who was travelling south behind the bus, attempted to avoid the bus but collided head on with the truck.
As a result of the collision Mr Harvey died instantly.
Fenton, who was appealing the severity of a sentence handed down in the Local Court, told the District Court that as a result of the accident he spent three weeks in a coma. In that time his daughter was born.
He said he broke five lumbars in his lower back, his pelvis, got golden staph and was in traction for three months.
He said he had agonised over Mr Harvey's death and thought 'maybe I did cause that accident'.
He was on anti-depressants and had been unable to work.
Judge Charteris said he had been impressed by Fenton's testimony.
He suffered physical and emotional symptoms that are 'likely to be with him for the rest of his life'.
He said he believed the truck driver had also contributed to the crash because he was driving too fast and had no options when he had to react to the unfolding emergency.
An 18 month probation imposed by the lower court was upheld, but an order that Fenton pay costs was quashed.
He was disqualified from driving for the minimum of 12 months, backdated six months to take account of the time Fenton was unable to drive. His licence will be returned on November 26, 2006.