'Heartbreaking' hit and run victim left 'lying on the road'
For 58 days the family of Tim Watkins walked around Mullumbimby not knowing if they knew the person who had committed the fatal hit and run that killed the popular footballer in 2019.
Stuart Charles Newman, 52, was driving along Wilsons Creek Rd, Wilsons Creek, when he fatally struck 22-year-old Tim Watkins in the early hours of June 23, 2019.
After striking Tim with his Mitsubishi Delica vehicle, Newman fled the scene without calling for help.
Tim died at the scene from traumatic injuries, having been struck with such force his body was found 47 metres from the initial impact, according to court documents.
Members of Tim's family spoke in Lismore District Court on Wednesday during sentencing proceedings about the loss and devastation they've suffered since losing the young man.
His mother, Wajan Watkins, said she woke the morning of Tim's death when her son Travis received a phone call from friends wondering if Tim ever made it home from a party the night before.
The pair drove around Mullumbimby searching for Tim after discovering his bed was empty.
They were eventually stopped by police when they approached Wilsons Creek Rd and were informed Tim had died at the scene.
"The hardest thing was driving away leaving my son without family on the cold road," Ms Watkins said.
"(What was) more heartbreaking (was) not only was Tim hit by a vehicle, but the driver did not stop and left him lying in the middle of the road."
She said it got to the point where she couldn't even grocery shop in Mullumbimby because of the fear she'd developed that she might know the person who killed her son.
"For the next 58 days knowing someone I might see was the one who hit Tim, (wondering if) everyone who looked at me and who smiled at me was the person who hit Tim and left him on the road …. knowing I could see the person responsible," Ms Watkins said.
Tim's father, Ken Watkins, said he can't do "anything to ease the pain" of losing his son but he knows Tim wouldn't want him to suffer.
"I would be lying (if I didn't say) that there were days I wish I could be with Tim, then I hear a voice that says 'no dad, you need to stay there, you need to look after the family'," Mr Watkins said.
"On top of the tears, laughter and sadness I know (I have found) grief.
"It's a horrid thing to live with, the only thing that makes it bearable is the wonderful memories."
Tim's aunt, Hayley Brown, said the trauma of knowing somebody could just leave her nephew for dead on the road was something she could never forgive.
"I could find forgiveness for the accident, but I could never forgive the steps taken by the driver in the following days that added to the pain of the unbearable loss," she said.
Newman appeared before Lismore District Court on Wednesday for sentencing over one count of failing to stop and assist after his vehicle caused death upon impact.
Judge Dina Yehia received a nine victim impact statements in total from family members and Tim's girlfriend on Wednesday.
Newman had travelled from Wilsons Creek to his mother's Bellingen property after the incident.
He handed himself into police at Coffs Harbour 10 weeks after Tim died.
Judge Yehia adjourned the sentencing after Newman's defence team said there were delays in receiving "psychological material" that were to be presented to the court.
The matter was adjourned to May 26 in Sydney District Court.
One count of negligent driving occasioning death will also be considered upon Newman's sentencing.
He remains on bail.