In an ice-induced psychosis, Tomas Targownik blew through a red light at more than 200km/h, forced a car off the road and ploughed into the back of a Melbourne accountant’s Mercedes.
Kandasamy Uthayanan was trapped as his car careened down Waverley Road, smashed into a light pole and exploded in flames.
The 49-year-old accountant, known as Sam, was driving home to his wife and teenage son after his part-time Uber-driving job, when he was killed instantly.
County Court Judge Paul Lacava on Tuesday called it a “most serious case of culpable driving”, while Targownik’s lawyer Aaron Schwartz described the circumstances as “horrendous”.
Moments before the crash, Targownik was clocked at 216km/h by a red light camera.
Another driver had spotted Targownik’s car speeding towards him and cross into his path and fearing he’d be hit, drove onto the nature strip, allowing Targownik to miss him by centimetres.
He then watched in his rear-view mirror at what was to unfold.
Mr Uthayanan was doing just 39km/h when Targownik hit him from behind.
His widow Tharmini “Mini” Balasingham feels cold when she thinks of what he endured in his final moments.
It has also changed her life, forcing her to move closer to public transport so their 15-year-old son can get to school, having to ask others for help with tasks usually taken care of by her husband and she is now fearful of driving.
She also worries for her son as he experiences his teenage years with no father.
“I feel helpless I can’t replace him,” she said in a statement read by prosecutor Kristie Churchill.
After the crash, Targownik spent a month in hospital for injuries, including treatment for drug-induced psychosis.
“It is possible when the impact occurred he was schizophrenic and had been for quite some time,” his lawyer said.
But Judge Lacava said this was clearly a case where Targownik drove with gross negligence and he’d need evidence the crash was a result of his mental, rather than drug-induced, state.
Mr Schwartz said Targownik felt remorse and wanted to apologise to Mr Uthayanan’s family in court, though they declined to be present.
Targownik, 34, pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death, drug driving and reckless conduct endangering life.
He returns to court for a further plea hearing next week.