Widow of Sydney dad Chris Culver killed by P-plater Nicholas Parker while cycling shares devastation

After sharing 23 years and three children with the love of her life, Yvette Caccioppoli said goodbye to Chris Culver one summer morning as he left for his usual morning cycle.

He never came home.

The young man who killed Mr Culver and his mate was acquitted over their deaths in court this week and Ms Caccioppoli is now spoken about her devastation for the first time.

“Two people have died and the man who hit them has walked free,” she said.

Nicholas Parker fell asleep at the wheel shortly before 5am on October 19, 2019, while on the way to his electrical apprenticeship in Sydney’s northwest.

The then-19-year-old swerved onto the wrong side of the road and fatally hit 40-year-old Mr Culver and 49-year-old Geoff Havill as they cycled next to a guardrail.

Speaking with news.com.au, Ms Caccioppoli revealed Mr Culver chose to ride at that time because he felt it was the safe option, with fewer people on the road.

She said two other cycling buddies were meant to join them that morning but pulled out.

In a judge-only trial in August 2021, Parker was found not guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing death. He was found guilty of the backup offence of negligent driving causing death in a second trial and sentenced to a 12-months intensive correction order.

On Monday, he was cleared of the latter charge in the Court of Criminal Appeal after his legal team argued it was not found beyond reasonable doubt that Parker did not hold the honest belief that it was safe to drive.

While the judge made the finding that Parker honestly believed it was safe to drive in the first trial, this finding was not carried over to the second trial, an “error” his legal team successfully argued meant he should be acquitted.

Under the law, the prosecution had to prove he was negligent leading up to the moments of falling asleep — by knowing he was tired and at risk of drifting off — in order for him to be found guilty.

Parker now holds no criminal record over the incident, except for one count of keeping left of the dividing line, which he pleaded guilty to and was fined $1000.

The trial heard Parker told police he’d gone to sleep about 10:30pm the night before the crash and woke up about 4am. He said he felt he had a good night’s rest and was “refreshed and alert before leaving home”.

While respecting the judicial process, Ms Caccioppoli said she struggled with the outcome.

“Now (Parker) doesn’t even have a criminal record for (the deaths), but my boys and I have a life sentence of living without Chris for the rest of our lives”.

She wanted to spread a general message to anyone who starts work while it is still dark to ensure they get their recommended hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel.

Reflecting on the day she lost her partner, she said through tears that he “didn’t look good” when she and her three kids visited him in the hospital, where he died after being rushed there.

“Every important milestone in our boys’ lives, their dad will not be there (f0r),” she said.

“I now have a fear of dying. Every day I worry about leaving our boys without a mum or dad”.

But she wanted him to be remembered for the fun and playful dad he was.

“The boys are missing out on, you know, doing the silly things (like) going down the slide the wrong way,” she said.

“He liked to cycle, but he was so much more than a cyclist … he was adventurous; he liked to snowboard.

His friends and family were the most important things in his life”.

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