A 23-year-old driver who struck and killed a 78-year-old pedestrian in September of 2017 has received a total sentence of three years for the crime, one of which cannot be abridged by parole. While the fact that Amelia Fennell’s car struck and killed a woman identified in court papers only as Mrs Jones was not in doubt, Fennell initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of driving in a manner dangerous and occasioning the death.
Found guilty of dangerous driving
The accident took place in a busy pedestrian area of Oak Flats in New South Wales, when Fennell’s car exited a roundabout at 58KPH in a 40KPH zone. Though Mrs Jones was not walking in a marked crossing when she was struck by the car, the area did have clear sightlines, and if the vehicle was traveling at the speed limit, the collision could have been avoided.
The prosecution’s case – accepted by the jury, who returned a guilty verdict – centered on the fact that Fennell was going too fast relative to the speed limit and for a high-pedestrian area, and driving distracted. The distraction was twofold, as she was looking at an illegally parked Armguard van on the curbside and still thinking about an argument she had just had with her supervisor at work.
Sentenced to 3 years (with many mitigating circumstances)
The sentencing in the case involved a complex negotiation between the seriousness of the crime and many factors – such as youth, good character and Fennell’s status as a mother of young children – which would point to a reduced sentence. After striking Mrs Jones with her car, Fennell hurried to aid the pedestrian, displaying immediate remorse. Since then, she has expressed further contrition via a letter to the court and when speaking to psychologists.
The plaintiff, mother of two children aged 7 years and 4 months respectively, has suffered from psychological issues including post-traumatic stress disorder following abuse, adjustment disorder and a mild case of cannabis use disorder. She has a treatment plan in place for the symptoms, and is not considered a re-offending risk.
The sentence as rendered by the court is 3 years, one without parole, as well as loss of driving privileges for 3 years.
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