Nicole Sims, 16, Jesse's sister, with Jess Cahill just 16 days before both were killed.
Nicole Sims, 16, Jesse's sister, with Jess Cahill just 16 days before both were killed. Contributed

Tearful driver jailed over three deaths

REMORSEFUL tears streamed from Justin Colthup's eyes as he was reminded of the fateful morning he fell asleep at the wheel and killed his girlfriend and her pregnant sister-in-law.

Colthup, 21, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm after he fell asleep at the wheel on August 15 2011 near Miriam Vale.

The court heard Colthup fell asleep, veered the car onto the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with two utility trucks heading north.

His girlfriend, Nicole Sims, who was 16 at the time, died instantly.

The court heard Colthup and three other passengers - his girlfriend Nicole, Nicole's brother Jesse Sims and Jesse's girlfriend Jessica Cahill - were on the road from Emu Park about 3am.

Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips told the court the accident resulted from Colthup's lack of sleep, having only slept three hours the night before.

"He wasn't drinking and speed wasn't a factor," Mr Phillips said.

Colthup's girlfriend, who was the front seat passenger, was killed instantly.

The court heard Ms Cahill died shortly after the accident.

Mr Sims received bowel injuries but survived the crash.

Colthup also received injuries to his hip, a torn liver and other injuries, the court heard.

Mr Phillips told the court Jessica had asked Colthup if he was tired. She asked him if he wanted to pull over to rest, to which he said he was all right to carry on driving.

Nicole Sims was a former Yeppoon State High School student.

Ms Cahill was a Sunshine Coast girl. Her unborn child was going to be named Oakley.

Judge Patricia Wolfe sentenced Colthup to four years in jail.

He will be eligible for parole in February next year.

Family tragedy

Name: Justin Matthew Colthup

Age: 21 (19 at the time of the accident)

Charge: Dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm

Plea: guilty

Sentence: Four years in jail. He will be eligible for parole on February 24 2014



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