Georgia Kyriakidis: Truck driver escapes jail for teen Jason Nguyen's death

George Kyriakidis was found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian GilliesGeorge Kyriakidis was found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gillies

A truck driver’s “selfish” attempt to cut a few seconds off his trip home cost the life of a Sydney schoolboy, who was crushed as he crossed the road, a court has heard.

But George Kyriakidis won’t spend a night in jail for the dangerous act that killed Jason Nguyen in 2018 after a judge ruled the truckie could never have known the fatal result of cutting a corner in Bankstown. Judge John Pickering told the District Court on Friday two illegal acts that occurred at the same time led to the “great tragedy” of 16-year-old Jason’s death – including his own decision to scurry across a flowing Chapel Road about 5pm on August 31, 2018.

George Kyriakidis will serve a two-year community corrections order. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesGeorge Kyriakidis will serve a two-year community corrections order.

Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

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The other was Kyriakidis’s choice to not stop at backed-up traffic and instead roll through a painted median strip onto the wrong side of the road in order to turn right at the intersection of Edward Street. CCTV footage of the incident showed the Moorebank High School student pause at the median strip, looking for oncoming traffic, when Kyriakidis performed the manoeuvre he admitted in court was illegal.

His white Volvo tipper knocked the teenager to the ground before rolling over his body. Jason was just 200m from home but later died at Liverpool Hospital.

Jason Nguyen was killed when he was hit by the truck.Jason Nguyen was killed when he was hit by the truck.

Kyriakidis, 45, was convicted by a jury in August of dangerous driving occasioning death, having pleaded not guilty. During the trial the father-of-three’s defence argued he had been paying attention at all times when he slowly performed the manoeuvre, crushing the boy he could not see in the process.

“Unfortunately, tragically and inexplicably … what Mr Nguyen effectively did is overtake the front of a truck,” Mr Kyriakidis’s barrister Brett Longville said on Friday. Mr Longville cast “no aspersions” on the teen but told Judge Pickering he must have regard to Kyriakidis having no control over the boy’s decision to cross the road where there was no pedestrian crossing or island. Crown prosecutor Mark Hay told the court he accepted Kyriakidis was deeply remorseful for the teen’s death but could not accept the driver’s claim during the trial he believed the turn was safe.

The truck driver was flanked by supporters in court.
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pPicture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesThe truck driver was flanked by supporters in court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

“As the driver of the 14-tonne truck, this driver should have been more aware, should have taken greater care than if he was in a small sedan,” Mr Hay said. “All he had to do was come to a complete stop and check his surroundings.

He could have and should have taken those steps.” The court heard excerpts of a letter from the Nguyen family, expressing how their lives have been “changed forever” following the incident. In sentencing, Judge Pickering spoke at length about how many people make choices that contravene the law in order to save time while behind the wheel.

He faced an emotional trial in August.
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pPicture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardHe faced an emotional trial in August. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

He said he had to “live in the real world” in acknowledging how Jason’s illegal act contributed to his death, but he ruled the boy could not have predicted Kyriakidis’s “fatal mistake” he said had an aspect of “selfishness” to it. “Jason unfortunately made an assumption that a truck, that had not fully stopped, would just stop, and it didn’t,” Judge Pickering said.

The judge sentenced the truck driver to a two-year community corrections order and banned him from driving for one year. In closing, he said the trial had made it clear that “sometimes horrible things happen and life can be cruel” and urged a clearly distressed Kyriakidis to “forgive himself”. “You’ve got three young kids, you’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you,” Judge Pickering said.

“Don’t ever take a shortcut again.” Court reporter Sydney

Heath Parkes-Hupton is a court reporter for NCA NewsWire based in Sydney.

He previously worked as a digital reporter for NewsLocal, writing for mastheads including the Wentworth Courier, Central Sydney and the …

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