Family of a young pregnant couple ‘hit and killed by teen driver’ open up on coming to terms with the Australia Day tragedy – and reveal who’s taking care of the pets left behind
- The family of Kate Leadbetter and Matt Field have spoken for the first time
- Kate’s step-father Tom Richter had written a song for the slain couple
- He said every facet of his family’s lives had been changed by the tragedy
- The family tries to avoid anger: ‘we can’t control what happens to the offender’
- The couple’s pets are now being cared for by both sides of the family
The family of the young couple and their unborn child killed on Australia Day said they have tried to avoid giving in to anger at the alleged 17-year-old offender.
Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field were expecting a child, Miles, when they were hit by a car allegedly driven by the youth while walking their dogs near the intersection of Finucane and Vienna roads in Alexandra Hills on the afternoon of January 26 this year.
Ms Leadbetter’s step-father Tom Richter, a music teacher from Maleny on the Sunshine Coast, spoke to Daily Mail Australia on the release of the song he has written for the couple, ‘Three Hearts’, with proceeds to the Homicide Victims Support Group.
Kate Leadbetter, 31, (right) and Matt Field, 37, (left) had been dating for more than four years and were expecting their first child
Ms Leadbetter and Mr Field were six months pregnant with their first child when they were tragically killed in a hit-and-run in Brisbane on Australia Day
‘I can’t speak for Matt’s parents or anybody other than us [he and wife Jeannie, Kate’s mother],’ he said, when asked whether the family remain angry about the tragic deaths.
‘But we’ve tried not to go there too much because we have no control over the police, the court case and the alleged offender.
‘Really, we just want to think about the love we had for our daughter and how much we miss her.’
News headlines in Queensland have been consumed by juvenile crime incidents in recent months, including multiple thefts of cars.
The deaths of Kate and Matt led directly to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing tough new laws for repeat juvenile offenders in early February, including wearing GPS tracking devices on their ankles and stricter bail conditions.
Kate Leadbetter’s step-dad Tom Richter (left) with Jen Mize, singer on ‘Three Hearts’
But Mr Richter, who has taught young people as a music teacher for 30 years, would not buy into the juvenile crime debate.
‘The young people I meet, they’re wonderful young people,’ he said.
‘Most of them are way better people than I was. They’re great human beings.’
Mr Richter also revealed the horrible toll the couple’s death has taken on the lives of the family.
‘It affects every facet of your life,’ he said. ‘It affects how you interact with friends who have families and children and grandchildren of their own. It affects how they act around you, at least initially.
‘It’s hard for everybody. It’s just a terrible, terrible thing that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. It’s hard every day.’
The Toyota LandCruiser that the teenager was allegedly driving at the time of the crash
Richter had recalled how Kate was making plans for the arrival of baby Miles after the pregnancy was revealed to him and his wife when Kate refused a glass of wine at their home in Maleny. He said Matt had been the perfect fit for his beloved step-daughter.
‘He was a wonderful young man,’ said Richter. ‘He was funny, he had a very quick wit and was fun to be around.
‘We couldn’t have wished for anyone other than Matt to be the father of Kate’s child.’
Mr Richter said that the couple’s dogs, which were involved in the accident – with one needing to be recovered from nearby bushland after running away – are now with both families.
‘The dogs are fine, happy and healthy,’ he said. ‘They’re living with Matt’s parents, who would often look after them anyway.
‘We did inherit Katie’s cat, so between the various families we’ve kept the pets in the family and they’re very much loved.’
The couple’s beloved dogs are now living with Matt Field’s parents after the tragedy