Clayton Curnow sent for an ICO assessment over death of best mate, Jake Collins, at Mungo Brush

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REMORSEFUL: Clayton Curnow said he was “numb” and “in shock” when he realised his best mate, Jake Collins, was no longer on the roof of the car.
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A MAN who causedthe death of his best mate when he fell from the roof of a ute looks set to avoid a jail term.

Clayton John Curnow, 32, haspleaded guilty to causing the death of champion archer Jake Collins,after Mr Collins fell from the roof of his ute during a prawning trip to Mungo Brush in October, 2016.

After an emotional sentencing hearing earlier this month, Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, on Friday ruled that Curnow should be assessed for an intensive corrections order (ICO), a form of custodial sentence served in the community.

Judge Gartelmann had been encouraged by Curnow’s barrister, Zaid Khan, to avoid sending the 32-year-old to jail in part because Mr Collins’s mother,Paula Southern, had said during her victim impact statement that both young men had made a mistake on the night Mr Collins died and that she only wanted the best for Curnow.

After weighing his sentencing options for two weeks, Judge Gartelmann ultimately agreed and sent Curnow for an ICO assessment.

He is due back in court in June.

EARLIER REPORT:

THE mother of a man who died after he fell from the roof of auteat Hawks Nest has told a Newcastle District Court judge she doesn’t blame the driver, worries that he might be sent to jail and only wants the best for him.

Paula Southern read an emotional victim impact statement on Friday during a sentence hearing for Clayton John Curnow, 32, who has pleaded guilty to causing the death of champion archer Jake Collins,after Mr Collins fell from the roof of his ute during a prawning trip to Mungo Brush in October, 2016.

“Everyone makes mistakes and that’s what this is,” Ms Southern said on Friday, choking back tears and surrounded by family.

“Clayton and Jake made a big mistake.“Two best mates having fun not realising how dangerous it was. Clayton we will always stand by you and always be here for you as we know you will be for us.You are Jake’s best friend forever.”

Mr Collins and Curnow were headed to Mungo Brush to go prawning on October 16, 2016, when they stopped to help some other campers collect firewood.

The pair also loaded a large branch onto Mr Collins’s ute and headed off along Mungo Brush Road. But a short time later MrCollins began climbing onto the roof of the car.Curnow told police he said to Mr Collins: “Don’t be a d—. Don’t kill yourself on my watch”.

LOST: Jake Collins, a champion archer, was killed on Mungo Brush Road at Hawks Nest on October 15, 2016. His best mate, Clayton Curnow, was driving the car.

However, Curnow kept driving and didn’t realise Mr Collins had fallen from the roof until he was a kilometre down the road.

A distraught Curnow gave evidence on Friday, telling the court what he felt when he realised Mr Collins was no longer on the roof.

“Numb,” Curnow said. Shock. Desperation. Something I had never felt before in my life.”

When asked why he didn’t stop the car when Mr Collins climbed onto the roof, Curnow said he didn’t register the risk Mr Collins was putting himself in.

“I never imagined that that action would be the cause of the last time that I would see him,” he said.

Victim impact statements are an important part of the sentencing processbut generally don’t carry a great deal of weight when the judge comes to determine the punishment.

However, defence barrister, Zaid Khan, submitted that if Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, was “considering extending leniency or mercy” to Curnowthen he was “entitled to take into account the view’s of the victim’s family”.Crown prosecutor Brendan Queenan disagreed, citing a judgement that stated “the attitude of the victim can not be allowed to interfere with the proper exercise of sentencing”.

It was among a number ofissues that Judge Gartelmann wanted to consider before sentencing Curnow on April 20.

HAPPIER TIMES: Jake Collins with his girlfriend Natalie Henderson, mother Paula Southern and sisters Louise and Laura.

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