A 53-year-old man was killed in the accident on the Bruce Highway last November.
A 53-year-old man was killed in the accident on the Bruce Highway last November.

Wife’s agony: ‘I still sleep with his clothes’

A TEENAGER who caused the death of a Farleigh man sobbed as a wife described sleeping with the clothes her beloved husband last wore before his tragic death.

Ken Townley, a 53-year-old Farleigh man, was killed on his way to work when an intoxicated P-plate driver veered into the wrong lane on the Bruce Highway at Balberra, south of Mackay, at 5.50am on November 19, 2017.

On the morning of the tragedy, Mackay District Court was told, witnesses observed the teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was visibly "off (his) face" and told those at the scene "my life is over, I've f---ed up".

The Daily Mercury reports Ken's wife Helen yesterday told the court of the devastating loss her family has felt since November last year.

"To say we are devastated is an understatement," she said. "He was what made life worth living... our lifelong adventure and dream of growing old together is now gone forever," she said.

"How did our life come to this?

"I still sleep with his clothes he last wore before he went to work that day as it brings me some sort of comfort.

"His work clothes are still draped over the chair ready for the next day. His work boots are still at the door. Everything is still as it was, except Ken is not coming home."

The teen's family wiped away tears as Mrs Townley's voice broke. She explained the trauma experienced by one of her three sons.

"Our youngest son Riley is 21 years old and has multiple disabilities. He needs 24-hour care," she said.

"Riley does not understand the concept of death. He knows his father is not here but does not know why.

"Every time a white diesel 4WD pulls up at our place, Riley runs outside because he thinks it is his dad. All I can say to him is 'Dad is not here, he is not coming'."

In sentencing yesterday, Judge Paul E. Smith told the court he had taken into account an early plea of guilty from the defendant, who was a minor at the time of the offence.

He had also taken into account the boy's mental heath, citing a "clear connection" to his decision to drive.

Of particular concern was the defendant's "organic brain injury" caused by head trauma.

Defence barrister Tony Glynn QC said it was a "matter of specific concern" his client, a high school student, could be imprisoned in an adult facility.

"Because of the nature of his head injury he is absolutely at risk," Mr Glynn said.

On the night of the incident the court was told the boy was in a distressed state after his friends left him alone at a party.

"He got in contact with a friend in Rockhampton. In his rather distressed state he decided to travel [to Rockhampton]," Mr Glynn said.

"His mother makes the point he had neither the money, nor the petrol to make it there. This shows the irrationality of his thinking at this time."

Justice Smith said it was obvious the teen was "consumed with regrets".

"This is a very serious offence... I can't get around the fact that he drank a lot of alcohol, drove dangerously... and killed someone," he said.

The 18-year-old was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention with a probation period of 12 months to be served subsequently. No conviction was recorded.