Taylen’s family to wait weeks to find out appeal status
The family of a little boy killed in a crash at Bouldercombe in 2016 will have to wait weeks to find out if Queensland's Attorney-General will appeal the wholly suspended prison sentence the driver who caused the crash received last month.
The family of four-year-old Taylen Swanson has asked Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman for the appeal, saying they are appalled by the lenience of the sentence for Michelle Lee Newton who received a wholly suspended 3.5 year prison term for the charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death on March 19 in Rockhampton District Court.
Read more here: 'Outgoing, kind-hearted, honest' boy's death haunts mum
Parties have one month from the sentence date to lodge an appeal with the Queensland courts.
An email from Ms Fentiman's office stated "We can advise you that the Attorney has requested an appeal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning the sentence imposed in Ms Newton's matter".
"Please note, it can take a number of weeks for the Director to provide an appeal advice to the Attorney, however a decision as to whether an appeal will be lodged will be made prior to the expiration of the appeal period."
In the letter to Ms Fentiman, Ms Swanson wrote "The four year old boy suffered catastrophic head injuries resulting in the heart breaking decision of having his life support switched off.
"The mother's injuries so severe, she was only able to hold her baby boy's hand from her bed while he quietly slipped away.
"The father (who had to have his brother rush him to Rockhampton from Brisbane as he was in no fit state to drive) supported her and her other son as he watched his only child die.
"Although not at the scene, he has been diagnosed with PTSD from the accident, he was unable to cope with daily tasks for six months after the accident. The memory still haunts them both everyday."
Ms Swanson pointed to the evidence before the court during the sentencing, of Ms Newton's drug driving conviction eight months prior to the fatal crash at Bouldercombe, and the drugs in her system at the time of the Bouldercombe crash, as part of reason for the appeal of the wholly suspended sentence.
"This is a major slap in the face for the victims and their family," Ms Swanson wrote.
"This woman walked from court. This woman has not, and never will set foot in prison for her actions on that day. This woman is not being held "accountable"."
While the family awaits an answer as to whether or not the sentence will be appealed, Ms Swanson has been busy trying to get people to sign a petition.
Ms Swanson, and others, launched the petition on Change.org three weeks ago, pushing for mandatory sentences for motorists convicted of dangerous driving causing death, known as Taylen's Law.
Specifically, mandatory minimum actual time in custody sentences imposed.
Read more here: Push for Taylen's Law after fatal crash driver walks free
There are no mandatory sentences in Queensland for the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death charge.
A report published in 2018, called Sentencing Spotlight on dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, showed 363 people had been convicted of the charge between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2017.
The average sentence of those 363 people was 5.2 years imprisonment with 88.6 per cent pleading guilty.
Last week Rockhampton driving instructor Leyland Barnett, spoke out about the increase in dangerous driving he has seen around the region as he backed the Taylen's Law campaign.
"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," he said
"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."
Read more here: Rocky driving instructor backs Taylen's Law campaign
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
Mitchell James Hawkins, 23, was sentenced on April 17, 2019, to two years and nine months' jail on one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and one of having a vehicle in a restricted area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, after the tragic crash that killed 16-year-old Hannah Dingle in 2017.
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