Sisters Pamela Godsall Smith and Janice Drake with a picture of their mother Joan Godsall and her book. Picture: AAPImage/David Clark
Sisters Pamela Godsall Smith and Janice Drake with a picture of their mother Joan Godsall and her book. Picture: AAPImage/David Clark

Family’s surprising reaction to sentence

A YOUNG mum's brief distraction, while smoking a cigarette and looking down at a radio, led to a head-on collision that ultimately killed a great grandmother, 98.

Mother-of-three Jayde Crosby, 30, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Joan Godsall in 2017, was yesterday given a wholly suspended two and half year jail sentence.

Crosby failed to negotiate a bend in Seventeen Mile Rocks Rd, Jindalee, and her Holden sedan crossed double white lines onto the wrong side of the road, straight into the other car.

Despite the loss of her vibrant elderly mother, Mrs Godsall's daughter, Pamela Godsall-Smith, asked Judge Ian Dearden not to send the young mother to jail.

"There's been enough grief and loss. I didn't want any child to be separated from their mother," Mrs Godsall-Smith, 70, said after the sentence.

"I was praying for a suspended sentence."

91 year old Joan Godsall competing for Australia in the over 85 women's 100m freestyle final at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney, at the age of 91.
91 year old Joan Godsall competing for Australia in the over 85 women's 100m freestyle final at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney, at the age of 91.


Judge Dearden praised Mrs Godsall-Smith, who had also been injured while driving her mother to lunch that day, for her "extraordinary compassion".

He said Crosby had a very short, but catastrophic period of distraction, caused by her smoking a cigarette, looking at her radio and hearing disturbing news from a doctor that day.

Judge Dearden said he personally wished cigarettes would be banned in cars.

"I've lost friends and family in motor vehicle collisions and it's not an accident, because an accident is something that can't be prevented," he told Crosby.

"This was a preventable motor vehicle collision and it was preventable if you had been paying the appropriate care and attention."

Judge Dearden mentioned the loss of a cousin whom he said was killed and his girlfriend injured, "through his own misjudgment" while driving.

"His family have never recovered from that," said Judge Dearden, who also spoke of having recently travelled on "the exact same path'' of road as Mrs Godsall-Smith and her mother.

Joan running along Coronation Drive at Milton in the Queen's Baton Relay for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Joan running along Coronation Drive at Milton in the Queen's Baton Relay for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Mrs Godsall, who lived with daughter Pamela at Sinnamon Park, died three days after the collision, just two days before a great, great grandchild was born.

Judge Dearden said the cherished mother, grandmother and great grandmother had been in excellent health for her age.

"The family hoped and wished that she would live to 100, as did she, of course. Those hopes and family dreams were dashed," he said.

The judge ordered Crosby's suspended sentence to have a three-year operational period and disqualified her from driving for three years.

Judge Dearden asked Crosby to consider speaking publicly about her experience, to educate and hopefully prevent others being killed on the roads.

Mrs Godsall-Smith described her mother as "a force'', who wrote a book about her life when 70, drove and swam until 94 and competed in masters swimming, winning gold medals.

Brisbane District Court Judge Ian Dearden.
Brisbane District Court Judge Ian Dearden.


Part of Brisbane District Court Judge Ian Dearden's sentence of Jayde Crosby for dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death:

"Whether or not you appreciate it, every single day, when any of us get in a motor vehicle, and turn it on and start driving we are participating in a massive, overlapping, interlocking social contract.

It has very simple terms. You want to get from the start of your journey to the end of your journey, safe and sound.

And every other person travelling on the road at the same time, who crosses your path or crosses by your path, has the same hope, wish and expectation.

Just before Christmas, 2018, I drove from my home base and came around that corner … So I travelled the exact same path … that the car driven by Ms Godsall-Smith was travelling when your car crashed into it.

They and you enjoyed the same expectation, that each of you would travel safely to the destination that each of you were going to.

In your case, you'd had some disturbing news from your doctor, you had a cigarette - quite frankly, I think they should be banned in cars, but it's not my decision - and you were distracted by the radio.

Three things that were operating on you that caused your driving to fall so short of what's acceptable that it breached the social contract.

Your car went across double lines, to the wrong side of the road, it collided with the car being driven by Ms Godsall-Smith and of course three days later her Mum, Joan Godsall, died.

She was a lady of 98, she was in excellent health for her age. The family hoped and wished that she would live to 100, as did she, of course.

Those hopes and family dreams were dashed. She missed the birth of another child, a great great grandchild, and all of that flows from your failure to make sure that you drove with enough care that no one else would be injured, or killed by your driving.

… I've lost friends and family in motor vehicle collisions and it's not an accident, because an accident is something that can't be prevented.

Joan Godsall, wearing some of the medals she won swimming in the Masters Games.
Joan Godsall, wearing some of the medals she won swimming in the Masters Games.


This was preventable, this was a preventable motor vehicle collision and it was preventable if you had been paying the appropriate care and attention.

So, like everybody, I've been touched, I've grieved, as did the family of Ms Godsall. They've had a loved and cherished mother, grandmother, great grandmother taken from them before her time.

I've read their victim impact statements. To the best as anyone can, I appreciate the depth of their grief and sorrow.

It seems to me your apology acknowledges their grief and understands, as best you can … the depth of their grief and sorrow.

Of course, it can't reverse what you've done, that's the profoundly sad thing. There is nothing that can change what's done.

You've had a difficult life … You're the Mum of three young kids. That's a relevant issue in my sentencing process but it's not determinative (that) just because you've got young kids it will keep you out of jail.

I've read the victim impact statements and in particular the victim impact statement of Ms Godsall-Smith and with what I think is extraordinary compassion … she speaks about the issue of punishment and she is of course very well aware that it's a matter for me … But she appreciates very keenly the importance of a child being denied the presence of their mother. So these are all relevant issues I have to take into account. I accept this is not momentary inattention, but it's a very short period of distraction.

Some important issues, you weren't speeding, you were not affected by drugs, you were not affected by alcohol. The period of distraction we can't say for sure but it must be a very short period. But of course, it only required a very short period and a catastrophic result.

You failed to take the corner, you crossed double white lines, you collided directly with Ms Godsall-Smith's car and you caused the injuries which resulted in her Mum's death and Ms Godsall-Smith's serious injuries … So that's your criminal conduct, that relatively short but catastrophic period of time, but that's all it took …"

 

Joan Godsall at the 2009 World Masters Games.
Joan Godsall at the 2009 World Masters Games.


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