Truck driver avoids jail time over death of Jess "Koala" Murphy

A man has has been handed a three year good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to causing the crash claiming the life of much-loved Hay teenager Jess “Koala” Murphy in 2016. 

Facing Griffith District Court last week, Darryn Jon Williams, aged 49, also had his licence revoked for three years.

He was charged with negligent driving occasioning death and possessing a prescribed restricted substance.

The 18-year-old passed away after a B-triple collided with her Toyota Hiace van at the intersection of the Sturt Highway and Maude Road.

She died at the scene and the driver of the van was conveyed to hospital. 

Ms Murphy was remembered by friends and family as a talented sportswoman who was “always smiling”. 

She graduated from St Francis College, Leeton in 2015 after completing Year 12 and was a valued member of the Leeton Phantoms Rugby Union women’s team. 

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Following her graduation, she had started studying to become an electrician.  

A seven-foot stainless steel koala now stands at the spot of the crash to honour her memory. Ms Murphy was nicknamed Koala at a young age because she was a “good climber”, according to her father. 

She was farewelled at a massive funeral in Hay, with more than 700 mourners turning out to pay tribute. 

Following her passing, Ms Murphy’s sister Therese said everyone knew Jess for her bright personality and penchant for tye-dye shirts. 

“We were looking at a gigantic climbing wall and she looked at us and challenged one of us to race her in the climb,” Miss Murphy said.

She said her sister was an inspiration because of her enthusiasm and positivity. 

“She always made sure everybody was happy – she always used to cook at home and bring it to school and share her food with everybody so nobody got too hungry,” Miss Murphy said.

“Everybody wanted to be friends with her from all different groups and backgrounds."

Hundreds of her teammates and former classmates took to social media to pay their respects. 

“As I wake up today hoping it was just a bad dream, but it's not,” one friend posted.

“My heart aches for your family, the baby Dianas and the Dianas, your school friends and friends. I will always love you and never forget you. Until we meet you at the try line.”