Truck Driver Cleared of Negligent Driving After Crashing into Homeless Man

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Police line do not cross

A Sydney magistrate has slammed the “disgraceful waste problem of affluent Sydney” after a frail homeless man was run over and killed by a garbage truck driver who mistook him for a discarded blanket.

Key points:

  • Garbage truck driver Ian Juurik was cleared of all charges over the death of homeless man Matthew Hayne
  • Mr Hayne died while sleeping on a thin, grubby mattress on narrow Bourke Lane in Redfern
  • The magistrate said the City of Sydney council removes other large items but mattresses were left on the street for weeks

The truck driver and City of Sydney employee Ian Juurik was cleared of negligent driving after he accidentally ran over and killed 31-year-old homeless man Matthew Hayne, who was sleeping on a thin, grubby mattress on narrow Bourke Lane.

The court heard Mr Hayne was “very, very emaciated” and residents told the court they had not witnessed homeless people sleeping there before.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Juurik said the incident was “life changing”.

“It has been very hard,” he said. “It felt like 10 years.”

Mr Hayne had moved away from the path of a recycling truck at around 6am on the morning he died.

But just before 8am, he was pinned beneath the driver’s side front wheel of a City of Sydney garbage truck.

Referring to witness statements, Magistrate Jennifer Giles said: “No part of poor Mr Hayne is visible.”

“He is small and thin. There is no discernible bulge [and] no movement despite the noise.”

Mattresses are a problem, court hears

Magistrate Giles said the incident points to the “disgraceful waste problem of affluent Sydney flooding the streets”.

She said the council removes large items of household rubbish on a regular basis but that “mattresses are a particular problem”.

The court heard the contractor engaged by the council was unreliable and that sometimes mattresses were left on the street for weeks.


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