John Ceruto accidentally killed his fiancee and their unborn son in a car crash, continuing a tragic life in which he had already lost his father and uncle to drugs, and his mother to domestic violence.
"Five of the closest people in my life have passed away in my 31 years of life," he told the South Australian District Court on Tuesday as he read an apology to the family of Lisa Smith.
"Now I stand before you as a broken man, having lost my fiancee and unborn boy, Chase."
The unlicensed driver was speeding, drunk and had taken drugs before he crashed into a tree and a power pole, killing 23-year-old Smith, who was 31 weeks pregnant.
His lawyer, Stacey Carter, said he had not expected to drive, but got behind the wheel after panicking and reacting to a perceived medical emergency for Smith, who had problems during the pregnancy.
They were both naked and not wearing seatbelts when he crashed the car on January 11, metres from their home in Woodville Park in Adelaide.
Smith's sister read a victim impact statement by their parents, who spoke of the pain of having to tell her children, aged four and six, that their mother was dead.
"Blake doesn't understand why his mum went to heaven with his (unborn) brother and didn't take him too," they said.
Prosecutor Jill Lieschke said Ceruto's offending was extremely serious and called for a lengthy jail term.
He was significantly impaired by drugs and alcohol and drove at about 130 kilometres an hour in a 50 kph zone.
But Carter asked for a suspended sentence, describing the accident as a dreadful tragedy and submitting that Ceruto had endured a life many fortunate people would not be able to comprehend.
When Ceruto was nine, his father died of a drug overdose, and when he was 13, his uncle died the same way in a chair next to him when he was playing on a computer.
He became an orphan at 15, when his mother died during a domestic violence incident.
Ceruto had loved Smith and they had been preparing a home for their unborn son which also had room for her two other children.
In his apology, Ceruto told Smith's family he could not ask for forgiveness but the earlier deaths in his life meant he understood the pain he had caused them.
He will be sentenced on Friday.