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Kingsthorpe truck driver Geoffrey Joseph Sleba has been given a three-year prison term for causing the death of a cyclist near Inglewood on Anzac Day 2014, but will only serve 13 months of actual custody.

Sleba, 45, was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court yesterday, Monday 28 May, after being convicted following a jury trial in the District Court in Warwick in February of dangerous driving causing death.

On the day in question former Tamworth veterinarian Dr Martin Pearson was taking part in a cycling event and was travelling north on the Inglewood-Millmerran Road when he was struck by Sleba’s truck around 3.15pm.

He was later found dead by his wife and fellow cyclists.

During his Warwick trial the jury heard evidence that Sleba failed to stop after the incident and may not have realised he had struck Dr Pearson due to fatigue or being asleep at the wheel.

Police used data from an electronic traffic counter and video footage from an Inglewood service station to link Sleba’s truck to the accident, and also presented physical evidence from the truck to show the contact between it and Dr Pearson.

During the Warwick trial Sleba’s defence said he had no recollection of the incident but could not rule out he was responsible, and that Sleba had undiagnosed sleep apnoea.

The jury acquitted Sleba of leaving the scene, finding there was not enough evidence to prove he knew he struck Dr Pearson, 61.

It was the second tragedy involving Sleba, who shot dead his wife Leanne at their Kingsthorpe property on April 23 2008.

Sleba said he was looking for a snake in the shed area with his wife at night when an eastern brown snake went over his feet and caused him to jump.

His gun accidentally discharged, fatally shooting his wife of 13 years in the back.

Coroner Tina Privitera handed down an open finding on the shooting death in June 2011 and Sleba was not charged over his wife’s death.

Sleba’s barrister, Jeff Hunter QC, yesterday told sentencing judge Leanne Clare the death of Sleba’s wife should be taken into account in sentencing, along with illness in his family, references, his work history and community involvement.

Sleba’s three-year jail term will be suspended after 13 months and he was disqualified from driving for two years. He had been in custody since his Warwick trial.

 

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