Johnathan, Cassie, Jo-Ann and Nicholas Thwaites on Mother’s Day.
Johnathan, Cassie, Jo-Ann and Nicholas Thwaites on Mother’s Day.

Truck driver’s heartbreaking realisation

WARNING: Graphic content

A VETERAN truck driver has broken down in court reliving the moment he drove over a woman's body thinking it was "a bag of rubbish".

Ricky Percival, 59, was in the NSW District Court giving evidence for the prosecution in the trial of former chicken delivery driver Emmanuel Xiberras who is accused of hitting a Sydney grandmother on May 20, 2016.

Jo-Ann Thwaites, 61, was allegedly dragged under Mr Xiberras's truck and then died after being hit by a second truck driven by Mr Percival.

Mr Percival is not facing any charges. He told the court he could not avoid driving over the "bundle" in the road.

"I couldn't avoid … running over it. Looking in the mirror … it looked like a leg," Mr Percival said, wiping his eyes as he wept in the witness box. "After another look, I realised it was a leg."

Mr Xiberras pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning the death of Mrs Thwaites. He has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to stop and assist after a crash.

The trial earlier heard that Mr Xiberras allegedly tried to remove clothing from underneath his vehicle and throw it in a bin.

Jo-Ann Thwaites’ family — Sarah with husband Johnathan and Jo-Ann's brother Damien — pictured outside court. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Jo-Ann Thwaites’ family — Sarah with husband Johnathan and Jo-Ann's brother Damien — pictured outside court. Picture: Dylan Robinson

 

Emmanuel Xiberras has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning the death of Jo-Ann Thwaites. Picture: Braden Fastier
Emmanuel Xiberras has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning the death of Jo-Ann Thwaites. Picture: Braden Fastier

On Monday, Mr Percival told the court he had been delivering airconditioning units to Sydney's Northern Beaches on the morning Mrs Thwaites died.

He was driving along Pittwater Road at Brookvale after 8.15am when he saw "what looked like … a black bag" in the centre of three lanes.

"I went to go and change lanes," he told Darlinghurst court. "And ended up running over it. I couldn't avoid what was in the road.

"I pulled the truck up, put the hazard lights on, got out. It was a leg," Mr Percival said, breaking down in tears. "I grabbed the phone and called triple-0."

Under cross examination by the accused's defence counsel, Mr Percival twice denied a suggestion that it had been he who hit and dragged Mrs Thwaites.

"I want to suggest Mr Percival that you dragged the bundle or bag of rubbish under your truck for a distance of about five to 600 metres north before you came to a stop. Do you agree or disagree?" asked lawyer Richard Pontello.

"I disagree," Mr Percival said.

Asked about how far away was another truck he saw on the same roadway that morning, Mr Percival said it was "about 100 yards".

"Can you tell us in metres?" Mr Pontello asked.

"No, I'm old school. Feet and inches," said Mr Percival, who said he had been driving trucks for about 40 years.

A mother driving her children to school along Pittwater Road on May 20 told the court she had not initially realised there had been an accident when she saw two feet poking from beneath a truck.

"I thought what an unusual, precarious place to be repairing a truck," Julia Turner told the court.

It was only when Ms Turner saw a man crouching down beside another truck that "the penny dropped".

Ms Turner realised she had seen a pair of legs "with either one or no shoes and blood".

"I rang triple-0," she said.



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