Mitchell Grimston (middle) will now spend three-years non-parole in jail.
Mitchell Grimston (middle) will now spend three-years non-parole in jail.

Casino driver sentenced over crash that killed mate

A CASINO man responsible for a fatal car crash on New Year's Day last year has been sentenced to five years in jail.

Mitchell Geofrey Grimston, 22, was driving a vehicle involved in a fatal crash on January 1, 2019 in Casino that killed his front-seat passenger Jayden Hogan.

Mr Hogan, 24, died at the scene after he was trapped in the burning vehicle, while his girlfriend sustained serious injuries as a result of being back seat passenger of the vehicle.

The trio were travelling east on Sextonville Rd near Casino at about 2.45am, left the road and struck an electrical supply box near Lakeside Drive.

They were 250m away from the Grimston's home, where they had planned to drink more alcohol.

The car rolled and Mr Hogan became trapped as the vehicle caught fire.

The court heard Grimston was travelling at 109km/hr in a 60km/hr zone and blew a blood alcohol level of .163.

"I just want to say to everyone how sorry I am even though it doesn't to do it justice, there's not a day that goes by where I don't think about his family," Grimston told the court.

"If I could have traded places with him, I would in a heartbeat."

Grimston faced Lismore District Court on Friday in the strange courtroom setting that saw family and friends of both Grimston and Mr Hogan appear in person and via video link because of COVID-19 restrictions limiting the amount of people able to attend the sentencing.

Grimston had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, cause bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of motor vehicle and not giving particulars to police.

The court heard from members of Mr Hogan's family, who each described the ongoing pain of losing their loved one.

"My whole family is torn apart, nothing will bring my brother back, not even a life sentence," Mr Hogan's sister said.

Judge Jeffery McLennan, in his judgement, offered the courts condolences to the Hogan family, who had been "a partner, brother, son and father".

Judge McLennan said despite Grimston's obvious remorse for his actions, which the court heard examples of him speaking to high school students about the impacts of drink driving, he couldn't ignore the facts the then 20-year-old knew he was too intoxicated to drive.

On New Year's Eve, hours before the fatal crash, Grimston had been asked to leave Casino Golf Club because he was too intoxicated.

"He was clearly aware he shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car," Judge McLennan said.

"The fact he continued to drink knowing what he knew and then decided to drive knowing what he knew shows a clear disregard for the safety of others."

Grimston was sentenced to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years.

Judge McLennan allowed Grimston a few moments with his family before taken into custody.