Family and friends of Wangaratta woman Roberta Brown burst into tears in court on Thursday as the truck driver accused of causing her death last year pleaded guilty.
Mrs Brown, 53, known to loved ones as “Bobbie”, was crossing Ryley Street at traffic lights at the Warby Street intersection while walking her dog about 8am on January 16, 2017.
She was struck and killed by Aaron Bell’s white 2008 Iveco truck.
Bell, 27, was shaking as he stood up in Wangaratta Magistrates Court to say he was guilty of the charge of dangerous driving cause death.
Speaking outside court, Mrs Brown’s husband Peter Brown said it was a relief for him and their three children to finally have the court case heard.
“Words can’t explain what my kids and I are going through at the moment,” he said.
“We have to go through the court process and go from there – it’s been with us all the time, it’s pretty ordinary.
“We’re finding strength with each other so that’s the main thing. A guilty plea means a guilty sentence as far as I’m concerned.”
Mrs Brown was a well-loved member of the Wangaratta community, where she had grown up, and had been working at nearby Rees and Rees in Ovens Street.
“Bobbie was an elegant and a very caring person and she always did the right thing,” Mr Brown said.
“She felt safe at the traffic lights, she really felt safe there, and that’s why we’d always cross there.
“We’d been there for 23 years at our place, we always went to the traffic lights to cross.”
Solicitor Geoff Clancy asked for the case to be heard in Shepparton County Court so it could happen in the next few months, rather than wait for the next Wangaratta circuit in July.
“My client wants this dealt with in the County Court quickly,” he said.
But prosecutor Amina Bhai said Mrs Brown’s family, many who packed into the public gallery in court on Thursday, did not want to travel to Shepparton for the case.
“Certainly the family’s preference is it goes to plea here in Wangaratta,” she said.
Mr Brown told The Border Mail his daughter would not be able to attend the court case if it was moved out of the region.
“This my my home, I’m fifth-generation Wangaratta and why should I leave here and go because it suits him?” he said.
The case was adjourned for a directions hearing on April 6 where the judge will make a ruling about the location of the plea hearing.
Bell has been on bail since he was charged last year by the Major Collision Investigation Unit, with the conditions he not talk to witnesses or leave the country.