“My heart was shattered”: Grief that followed bus driver’s death

Peter, Margaret, and Melina Leonello. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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The Leonello family have bravely fronted court today to share how the death of their family’s patriarch has impacted their lives.

Andy Leonello died after an incident in Llandilo on May 24, 2022 when the bus he was driving collided with an unmarked police car being driven by on-duty police officer Justone Wong.

Wong has pleaded guilty to the charge of ‘dangerous driving occasioning death’ and the Leonello family gave Victim Impact Statements to tell the court how the crash affected their lives.

Leonello’s children Melina and Peter were joined by their mother Margaret as they gave evidence as to how the loss of Andy has been felt.

“With one phone call my life was ripped apart at the seams, my heart was shattered, and my life would never be the same,” Melina said.

“How do I put into words the grief, trauma and utter devastation I felt on the 24th of May 2022, the day the accused blatantly failed to follow the basic road rules, collided with my dad’s vehicle and ultimately killed him.

“You [Wong] took away not only my dad but a husband, uncle, brother, great uncle and his impending role as a grandfather, something he was so excited about.”

The scene of the accident in 2022. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Peter reflected that losing his father is something he will never fully recover from.

“As a son you look up to your father and I’m no different,” Peter said.

“I was so looking forward to seeing my dad with my daughter and for me being able to get some advice from my dad about being a father and so forth, just more things that have been taken from me that shouldn’t have been.

“I was really looking forward to my first Father’s Day now being a father and to share that with my dad, but now it’s never going to happen now, in fact that particular day I was looking forward to I actually hate now.

“It’s one of the hardest days of the year for me [but] I put on a happy face for my family but behind that is a broken man just hanging on.”

Margaret, Andy’s widow, said that her life will always have a hole where Andy should be.

“…My world has been turned upside down,” Margaret said.

“I can no longer live on my own anymore. I am afraid to be alone in the house. I miss Andy’s companionship, hearing his voice, his stories, his laugh. My life is so different now.

The scene of the accident in May 2022. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“Andy loved people. His generosity spread wide and far. A loyal friend, a loving husband, a supportive father, and a much-adored man within the many communities he was involved in. Andy had so much more life to live, and so much more to give others.

“The seat he used to sit in remains empty. A stark reminder that he isn’t coming home.”

Wong sat stony faced throughout the proceedings before reading an apology to the Leonello family.

“To his wife Margaret, daughter Melina, son Peter, brother Giuseppe, his extended family, friends and community, I am so sorry,” Wong said.

“I am sorry for the sadness and pain I have caused your family.

“I have no doubt he is truly missed.”

Wong will be sentenced on Monday, July 1.

Emily Chate

Emily Chate joined The Western Weekender in 2024, and covers local news - primarily courts and politics. A graduate of the University of Wollongong, Emily has contributed to The Daily Telegraph and worked as a freelance journalist.

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