Irish tradesman Patrick Nealon (38) was found guilty this week of dangerous driving causing the death of Nicole Lewanski on December 14 2016.
The three week trial heard that the incident happened in the Sydney suburb of Wolli Creek after Nealon is understood to have been drinking for several hours before getting behind the wheel.
Nealon reportedly refused to do a roadside breathalyser test, so the actual extent of his blood alcohol level at the time of the accident is unknown, but when later tested he had a level of 0.169 – more than three times the legal limit in Australia.
The trial heard Nealon lost control of his car on the Princes Highway having attempted to cross three lanes of traffic in an attempt to turn right. He fishtailed into a pedestrian island where Ms Lewanski (22) was standing.
After Nealon was found guilty of dangerous driving leading to Nicole’s death, her twin sister Christina has made a plea urging the public not to drink and drive.
“Our lives will never be the same without Nicole,” she told Independent.ie
“We feel the loss of her every day but these feelings are amplified on key events in particular our shared birthday and Christmas.
“Please never drink and drive. Your actions do not effect one person but a whole community.”
The young woman, who had just started her dream job as a librarian, sustained massive head and internal injuries when she was thrown into the air after being hit by Nealon’s truck.
The court heard that Nealon told a paramedic he had “maybe 15 schooners of beer” while drinking for around four hours prior to the crash.
According to a witness who attempted to perform CPR on Nicole, Nealon’s vehicle was seen driving erratically. Witnesses also estimated he was driving around 90kmh in what was a 60kmh zone.
Nealon denied all charges.
Christina said that she hopes her family get justice for Nicole when he is sentenced on December 6.
“After nearly three years of suffering the loss of my sister, we were waiting for the trial,” she said.
“It was incredibly frustrating that Mr Nealon refused to admit his guilt. We found three weeks of listening to the specific details surrounding my sisters death to be immensely draining both physically and mentally.
“Nothing can prepare you for the loss of someone you are so close to. But to hear the accounts from the witnesses firsthand of how Nicole was thrown several metres in the air broke our already shattered hearts.
“My family and I were extremely relieved and grateful to the jury for finding him guilty,” she continued.
“Our next challenge will be making it through the ordeal of sentencing. We hope he receives a severe sentence. Nothing will bring Nicole back but there should be consequences for his terrible actions. It is extremely lucky that no one else was injured or killed at the time of the accident.”
Christina paid tribute to her twin, saying: “At 22 years old, Nicole was an aspiring young librarian who had just completed her studies.
“Nicole had started her new job at the university of New South Wales as a librarian. She had moved out of the family home to have a shorter work commute to her dream job.
“The last six weeks of her life was an exciting time, as she was reaching her goals before her life was tragically taken.
“Nicole was a beautiful person who touched so many peoples lives. She is dearly missed by her family, partner, friends and colleagues. Nicole was a social butterfly who made friends wherever she went.”