Fatal crash driver’s sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’
The Liberal National Party's Tim Nicholls has described the sentence of a Rockhampton woman for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm as "manifestly inadequate".
Mr Nicholls, the justice spokesman for the LNP, spoke with The Morning Bulletin on Thursday about the sentence of Michelle Lee Newton.
Newton, 30, was sentenced on March 19 to 3.5 years prison, wholly suspended and operational for five years for one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm, along with one count each of drug-driving while being a provisional licence holder and possessing a dangerous drug.
The crash she caused on the Burnett Highway at Bouldercombe on September 18, 2016, killed Taylen and caused grievous bodily harm to his mother Kel Williams and her friend Nik Kilpatrick.
Mr Nicholls has called on Queensland's Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman to lodge an appeal on the sentence.
The Attorney-General told The Morning Bulletin earlier this month she had sought advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about an appeal.
Parties involved in the sentencing have 28 days to lodge an appeal, according to Queensland legislation.
Mr Nicholls said while he did not have the sentencing Judge's remarks available, he had looked at other cases for comparison.
Mr Nicholls said the 3.5 years prison sentence was similar to others, but not the wholly suspended part of the sentence.
He claimed the sentence was "manifestly inadequate" due to the death of a child, the serious injuries of others, along with the presence of drugs in Newton's system and her prior conviction for drug driving.
Mr Nicholls said when comparing Newton's sentence to others, the others served "anything up to one third of the prison term" in actual custody.
He said while the operational period for the suspension was long - five years - "the lack of any actual time in custody was concerning".
Newton's Holden sedan came out of a "sweeping left bend" corner on the Burnett Highway near Bouldercombe at 80km/hr and veered across the road into the path of the four-wheel drive Ms Williams was driving.
Ms Williams suffered a perforation to her bowels which required surgery, other abdominal injuries and a fractured ankle.
Ms Kilpatrick suffered fractures to her breast bones, sprained ankle and ligaments, bulging discs in her lower back and injury to her right wrist.
Newton was trapped in her vehicle with emergency services having to get her out.
She had fractures to her face, arms, legs, ribs and pelvis as well as a traumatic brain injury.
Newton had small amounts of amphetamine, methamphetamine and marijuana in her system and the Crown did not allege the drugs contributed to the crash, rather it was caused by Newton's inattention.
Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence argued Newton should receive an absolute disqualification, rather than the legislated minimum of 12 months, due to her traffic record which included a drug-drive conviction eight months prior to the crash.
The court heard Newton was in hospital in Brisbane for five months following the accident. Since the crash 4.5 years ago, she has not reoffended.
Newton started smoking marijuana when she was 17 and meth when she was 20. She also had mental health issues linked to trauma in her teenage years.
Other drivers convicted of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death from crashes in Central Queensland have spent time in prison.
Errol John Miller fled a random breath test site on June 10, 2011, and less than five minutes later, a 16-year-old girl was dead.
He had crashed the car on Southern Access Road, near Woorabinda.
Miller was sentenced on August 12, 2014, to seven years' jail and disqualified from driving for five years. He had already served 16 months and was eligible for parole on February 11, 2015.
Read more here: Drunk driver jailed over 16-year-old girl's death
Peter Matthias William Hills was 41 when he was sentenced in Rockhampton District Court in November 2017 for the fatal crash that occurred at Bajool about 5.30pm on August 10, 2015, as Hills drove himself and two others home from Port Alma salt flats.
The crash killed Neil Bulley, 47, and seriously injured Dayne Ladbrook, 24 at the time.
Hills was sentenced in 2017 to three years jail, suspended after serving nine months and operational for 3.5 years.
Read more here: Fatigue caused horror crash that killed colleague
A driver who killed a young mother of four after doing speeds of up to 170km/h while highly intoxicated had been busted drink driving five times in 33 years.
Wayne Barnham, 52, was sentenced to nine years' prison on August 29, 2018, for the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of Tina- Marie Johnson, 27.
Read more here: Young mum killed by speeding serial drink driver