The truck driver who allegedly killed a young couple in a multi-vehicle smash north of Dubbo earlier this year has been denied bail by a NSW Supreme Court justice. The pair – a 21-year-old man and his 19-year-old girlfriend – died when a semi-trailer, allegedly driven by Robert Crockford ploughed into seven vehicles stopped at roadworks on the Newell Highway. At least 10 others, including a two-year-old girl, were injured in the January 16 accident involving two trucks, four cars and a ute. Crockford himself was also injured in the crash and was confined to a wheelchair for some time.

The 50-year-old initially told investigators his semi’s brakes had malfunctioned but that was disproved as a reasonable possibility, the court heard on Friday. He then changed his story, saying he was incapacitated by a coughing fit. Justice Richard Button, in his judgment, said the second theory was not disproved but it was “most unlikely”. Crockford’s legal team, he continued, have indicated the 50-year-old truckie’s consciousness was unexpectedly compromised. Appearing in court via video link, Crockford hoped to be released to live with his long-term partner in her Queensland home where she could help him recover from his injuries, comply with bail conditions and prepare for his legal battle.

Despite a spotless criminal record, Crockford has attracted more than 20 traffic infringements, many of those speed related, during his years driving trucks, Justice Button said. “Many of those infringements when he was driving a large, heavily-laden truck,” he said. “In other words, most infringements present a serious danger to the community.” Justice Button acknowledged Crockford faced so many years in prison if found guilty that even a person of “good character” would be tempted to flee. “He has shown, over many years, he is a person who will break the law in the form of the road rules which apply to every driver – and especially to drivers of large, heavily-laden vehicles if it suits him,” Justice Button said. Crockford slumped as the judge on Friday said he posed an “unacceptable risk” to the community if given bail while his supporters in the public gallery gasped and sobbed as it was denied. His matter is expected before Dubbo Local Court in April.

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