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Sip of milk led to deadly Vic truck crash

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Caitlin Guilfoyle

A man was killed and his young family left fighting for survival after a cement truck driver's "tragic mistake" in Melbourne, a court has heard.

Benjamin Lee, 35, was rounding a corner to enter the South Gippsland Freeway last year when he used one hand to open a bottle of banana-flavoured milk, looked down to take a sip and checked his speedometer.

After "quite a few seconds" not looking where he was going, Lee saw cars in front had slowed, the Victorian County Court was told on Wednesday.

"He slammed on the brakes, but it was too late," crown prosecutor Daryl Brown said.

The truck ploughed into the back of a car driven by Qurban Ali, a permanent resident who migrated from Afghanistan four years earlier and was arranging for his wife and four kids to join him in Australia.

Mr Ali, a tiler on his way to work, died after being taken to hospital.

The 39-year-old's body was taken to the Coroners Court, where it remained for almost nine months while Mr Ali's wife tried to enter the country on a temporary visitor's visa, so she and her children could say goodbye.

After two applications were rejected, Mr Ali was buried in outer Melbourne, the court heard.

"I had wished to see my husband before his burial for one last time...but unfortunately my wish was denied by the immigration department," Mr Ali's wife, Saliha Ali, said in a statement.

Mrs Ali is a refugee in Pakistan where she lives with her children, aged five to 12.

Their religious minority is targeted by militant groups and the kids can't go to school, because the loss of Mr Ali's income means they can't afford the fees, the court was told.

A spousal visa application, lodged by Mr Ali in 2013, was classified as withdrawn after his death on September 12 last year, Mrs Ali said.

Lee has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death over the crash in Hallam.

His barrister, Rainer Martini, said Lee was deeply remorseful.

"He has made a tragic mistake," he told the court.

Lee, of San Remo, has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.

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