A defence lawyer has spoken out about the apparent ‘outrage’ surrounding the ten-year sentence given to a teenager who mowed down a pregnant couple.
Kate Leadbetter, 31, her unborn child and her partner Matthew Field, 37, were run over in Alexandra Hills in eastern Brisbane on Australia Day last year while taking their dogs for a walk.
The driver, who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time, ran a red light while driving a stolen Landcruiser, colliding with a truck before rolling and hitting the couple.
On Wednesday the teen, now aged 18, was jailed for ten years but Justice Martin Burns ordered he be eligible for parole after serving six years.
Belinda Robinson, a lawyer and former Bachelor contestant, said the teen would only be eligible to apply for parole after serving 60 per cent of his sentence and would not be ‘automatically released’.
Kate Leadbetter, 31, (right) and Matt Field, 37, (left) were walking their dogs in Alexandra Hills, southeast of Brisbane, when a four-wheel-drive ploughed into them
Belinda Robinson, a lawyer and former Bachelor contestant said neglected youths needed more support to prevent further tragedies from occurring
‘There is no guarantee he will be granted parole by the parole board,’ she said.
The teen was found to have had a blood alcohol content between 0.151 and 0.192 per cent at the time of the crash.
He had been drinking and using cannabis from about 10am that day.
The teenager – who was first charged with murder, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and a raft of other charges.
At his sentencing on Wednesday, the teen stood stony-faced as he was told he would be spending at least the next six years in prison.
The court heard the teen’s upbringing was ‘marked by significant deprivation and neglect’.
Ms Robinson questioned why the public weren’t outraged by the lack of support given to youths in troubled homes
The child safety department intervened when he was aged nine because he was self-harming, left unsupervised, unfed, and exposed to domestic violence and abuse.
At times he used cannabis and meth every day, was frequently absent from school and sometimes living in parks.
Ms Robinson questioned why there wasn’t more support for neglected youths.
‘The public is outraged by his sentence but why aren’t we outraged by the lack of support for our youth who come from abusive and violent homes and turn to crime and drug use because they have absolutely zero support and guidance in life whatsoever,’ she said.
‘We could be preventing these incidences with proper funding for DV (domestic violence) and substance abuse affected families and the children from these homes way before it gets to anybody being killed.’
Justice Burns said the tragedy was as an ‘almost inevitable consequence’ of the teen’s actions in the lead up to the crash.
Ms Leadbetter and Mr Field were six months pregnant with their first child at the time of the crash
‘No sentence will be adequate … (and) can’t do justice to the suffering you have caused,’ he told the teenager.
The couple’s devastated families fought back tears as they addressed the court on Tuesday.
‘Australia Day will now have a whole new meaning for us. It will be a remembrance day,’ Matthew’s father Russell Field said before taking aim at the teenager.
‘How could you create such destruction in people’s lives and then do a runner at the first opportunity you had?
‘This was a low act, the lowest of lows, a dog act.’
Justice Burns noted the teen had showed genuine remorse for his actions.
He will be eligible for parole in 2027.
The Toyota Land Cruiser that the teenager was driving at the time of the crash