Push for Taylen’s Law after fatal crash driver walks free
Victims and family members of a crash which killed a four-year-old boy and seriously injured two adults have launched a petition to have mandatory sentences imposed for motorists convicted of dangerous driving causing death, known as Taylen's Law.
The push for the change in sentencing regime in Queensland comes after victims and family members of a fatal Central Queensland crash were devastated the motorist who caused the crash walked out of court the same day she received a wholly suspended prison term for her actions.
Michelle Lee 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 four-year-old Taylen Swanson and caused grievous bodily harm to his mother Kel Williams and her friend Nik Kilpatrick.
She was also disqualified from driving absolutely - meaning she can apply to the court in two years' time to have the absolute disqualification lifted.
Ms Williams, Ms Kilpatrick, their family members and the loved ones of little Taylen were devastated by the sentence Newton received.
Taylen's aunt Jody Swanson, with others, have set up a petition on Change.org asking the Queensland Government to impose mandatory sentences with actual jail time for people convicted of dangerous driving causing death.
Ms Swanson told The Morning Bulletin she believed the sentence needed reviewing.
"The punishment is not fitting the crime," she claimed.
"There is no acknowledgment of what she did.
"I believe that even a small amount of jail time would help hold her accountable for her actions. Help her understand that she has a duty of care when on the road."
"September 2016, life support was switched off on Taylen, a four-year-old boy, due to injuries sustained in a car crash. The driver at fault has a lengthy driving record, a criminal history record and had traces of drugs in her system at the time of driving. She crossed over the white line, injuring people, the four-year old, who was securely fastened in his seat, never had a chance at survival," Ms Swanson wrote on the petition website.
"1643 days later, after many adjournments, the matter is finalised. 1643 days of hoping for justice. 1643 days waiting … The result, 3.5 years wholly suspended, no time previously served, no jail time or accountability whatsoever … No justice at all for the family who will never get to see that beautiful boy grow up.
"I, for one, would like to see mandatory jail time for dangerous driving causing death, particularly for people with a lengthy driving records and criminal history. Wholly suspended sentences are a "kick in the face" for families who have lost loved ones. It appears that the life cut short didn't matter … There is no "justice", no closure, no recognition for the loss of a life, no recognition of the other occupants injured, no recognition of the anguish and heartache of the family. It's all like it didn't matter.
"Change the law and make jail time mandatory, provide some justice, provide compassion and closure for victims of another's dangerous driving. Maybe this may be a better deterrent, roads would be safer. Don't let another family suffer the same fate our family has. #taylenslaw."
More than 2,600 people had signed the petition as of 12pm, March 31, 2021.