Taylen Swanson was four-years-old when he died from head injuries sustained in a car crash caused by Michelle Newton's inattention which resulted her vehicle veering onto the incorrect side of the road and crashing head-on into Taylen's mother's car on September 18, 2016, on the Burnett Highway at Bouldercombe. Taylen's mother Kel Williams supplied photos of her beloved son after Newton was sente
Taylen Swanson was four-years-old when he died from head injuries sustained in a car crash caused by Michelle Newton's inattention which resulted her vehicle veering onto the incorrect side of the road and crashing head-on into Taylen's mother's car on September 18, 2016, on the Burnett Highway at Bouldercombe. Taylen's mother Kel Williams supplied photos of her beloved son after Newton was sente

Rocky driving instructor backs Taylen’s Law campaign

A Rockhampton driving instructor with over 20 years experience has backed a petition calling for the Queensland Government to make mandatory minimum actual time in custody periods for motorists convicted of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

The victims and family members of a crash which killed a Taylen Swanson, 4, and seriously injured two adults, had launched a petition to have mandatory minimum actual time in custody 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 those in 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.

Michelle Lee Newton, 30, leaving Rockhampton courthouse on March 19, 2021, after being sentenced to 3.5 years prison wholly suspended operational five years and absolutely disqualified from driving for one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm, drug driving and possession of marijuana.
Michelle Lee Newton, 30, leaving Rockhampton courthouse on March 19, 2021, after being sentenced to 3.5 years prison wholly suspended operational five years and absolutely disqualified from driving for one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm, drug driving and possession of marijuana.

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.

Rockhampton driving instructor Leyland Barnett said his heart goes out to Taylen’s family and friends.

Evolution in Training driving instructor Leyland Barnett.
Evolution in Training driving instructor Leyland Barnett.

“ I totally agree with a push towards mandatory jail terms for dangerous driving causing death,” Mr Barnett said.

“It brings me to tears to see the results of dangerous driving.

“I have been a driving instructor in Rockhampton for over 20 years and the amount of dangerous driving that I have seen and recorded on dashcam has increased considerably.

“A motor car averages out at 1.5 tons and at speed takes a considerable amount of force to stop.

“An average human brain takes 1.5 seconds to react to a situation, so the faster you travel the less time you have to react and prevent a collision.

“Do not blame something for the result of a collision as your decision and your reaction is what counts, you are responsible and the law needs to bring accountability into the spotlight.”

The Change.org petition Ms Swanson set up, with the aim to send the petition to Ms Fentiman, pushing for Taylen’s Law, had 2,861 signatures as at 4.30pm, April 2, 2021.

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



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