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Garbage truck driver thought homeless man was 'just a pile of blankets'

Ian Juurik outside court. COURTESY: AAP

A Sydney garbage truck driver who ran over a homeless man sleeping on a mattress, killing him, believed it was “just a pile of blankets”, a magistrate has been told.

Ian Juurik, 36, has been charged with negligent driving causing the death of Mathew Hayne, 31, on Bourke Lane in Redfern shortly before 8am on May 21 in 2018.

A further charge of dangerous driving causing death was withdrawn in December.

He saw what he thought was a blanket or a quilt but it was, in fact, a foam mattress with the deceased contained within it crown prosecutor Melanie O’Connell said at Downing Centre Local Court today.

He was further negligent by driving over that item in the garbage truck… without checking whether it was safe to do so.

The Crown alleges Juurik did not keep a proper lookout and did not take the reasonable care expected from the “ordinary, prudent driver” in the circumstances, Ms O’Connell said.

Juurik’s lawyer, Benjamin Goh, said the issue was whether magistrate Jennifer Giles would be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Juurik was negligent “when he decided to drive over what he thought was just a pile of blankets”.

The magistrate asked: It just hinges on – is this negligent?

Yes your honour the parties replied.

Mr Hayne was captured in footage taken from another truck that drove down the lane at 6.55am that morning.

Two of Juurik’s City of Sydney colleagues are among five witnesses set to testify.

The victim’s mother Melissa Hayne, was in the public gallery.