Singleton truck crash driver who led police on a 100km pursuit sentenced to 12 years’ jail

Rodney Johnson drove his truck for 100km in a police pursuit before ploughing into buildings and traffic lights.

Rodney Johnson drove his truck for 100km in a police pursuit before ploughing into buildings and traffic lights. Photo: ABC

A man has been sentenced to more than 12-and-a-half years’ jail, six-and-a-half years’ non-parole, for a fiery truck rampage in New South Wales.

Rodney Johnson, 31, was behind the wheel of the prime mover when it ploughed through buildings on October 11, 2017, in Singleton in the Hunter Valley.

During the carnage eight people were injured and multiple cars crushed.
Newcastle District Court judge Tim Gartelmann said the trail of destruction was akin to a war zone and that it was astonishing no-one was killed.

One of the charges related to using the prime mover as a weapon as he led police on a 100 kilometre pursuit.

“The overall course of driving was staggeringly dangerous,” the judge said.

Driver blamed psychosis

In 2018, Johnson pleaded guilty to a string of offences over the crash which left a trail of destruction – some of which is still yet to be repaired.

Johnson said he stole the truck in the town of Murrurundi as a way of getting to Sydney.

In a letter submitted to a sentencing hearing this week, Johnson said he had not slept for four days at the time of the incident and said he was psychotic.

“I saw a black panther with yellow eyes and I thought I saw three yowies – two little ones and a big one,” he said in the letter.

“I thought people were trying to get me and something came over me and I got scared and I don’t remember.

“I have a flash of hitting the telegraph pole and I remember one of the police officers grabbing my arm.

“I’ve seen it on the news what happened, and it really scared me.”

Johnson pleaded guilty to 11 offences and another 10 were taken into account during sentencing.

He will be will be eligible for parole in 2024.

After the crash, a critical incident team was set up to investigate circumstances surrounding the incident including the timing of the deployment of road spikes.

The ABC has been told investigation is ongoing.


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