Home detention instead of prison considered for fatal crash
A PROMINENT Lennox Head resident who killed a Casino grandmother in a car crash at Casino in 2012 may serve home detention, instead of being jailed.
At Lismore District Court yesterday Judge L Wells sentenced 54-year-old Louise Maria Owen to 18 months' jail, with a non-parole period of 12 months.
However, she ordered Owen be assessed for home detention due to her psychological state, granted bail and adjourned the remainder of sentencing to April 8.
Judge Wells said anti-rejection medication following a 2009 heart transplant, as well as other factors such as childhood sexual abuse, were to blame for Owen's poor mental health.
A jury last October found Owen guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death.
She was driving along the Bruxner Hwy at Casino in March, 2012, when a lapse in attention caused her to veer into the opposite lane.
Owen collided with 62-year-old Heather Flack's car, resulting in the grandmother's death.
Judge Wells said sentencing was difficult, as Owen did not intend to cause Mrs Flack's death, or to commit an act which resulted in her death.
"Of course, no sentence can ever return things to the way they were or compensate the family for their loss," she said.
She noted Mrs Flack's family, who were present at the hearing, had suffered deeply after losing their much-loved family member.
The Judge was critical of Owen's failure to accept her actions and apologise to Mrs Flack's family publicly and mentioned a "violent outburst" in court on October 15 last year.
"What is troubling and complicated is she has quite readily demonstrated her dissent by her violent outburst in court," she said.
"By doing that the only inference that can be drawn is she hasn't accepted the verdict of the jury and authority of the court."
Judge Wells took into account Owen was not speeding and was not intoxicated at the time of the crash. She noted there was no evidence of erratic or dangerous driving, intentional risk taking or distraction.
She also considered tendered character references, Owen's years of charitable work and advocacy for various groups and causes, as well as her loss of family support following the crash.