Dad jailed for crash that killed mother of his two boys
A DAD of two whose girlfriend was killed when their car ploughed head-on into an oncoming car has been jailed.
In a Crown prosecution case before the Ipswich District Court, Joseph James Westlake, 38, was convicted after he pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, causing the death of Kristie Maree Symonds, 25, at Forest Hill on July 20, 2016.
The crash happened at noon on the Old Laidley Forest Hill Rd, with Westlake's Commodore colliding with a Subaru Forester, seriously injuring its four passengers.
Ms Symonds, a mother of Westlake's two sons and an older boy, had been travelling in the front passenger seat.
There was no evidence before Judge Douglas McGill SC to suggest speed was a factor, with Crown prosecutor Noel Needham saying the dangerous operation was in relation to Westlake failing to see the indicator lights of a car ahead of him to show it was turning off the rural road.
Westlake made the decision to overtake the turning car across double lines, causing the collision with the Subaru.
The driver of the turning car said he saw the Commodore coming up behind him quickly in his rear vision mirror.
Mr Needham outlined Westlake's traffic history, which included 14 speeding offences, one DUI, two offences of failing to stop for a red light or at an intersection, and using a hand-held device.
Westlake's licence had been either cancelled or suspended on three previous occasions.
Lee-Anne Symonds, the mother of Kristie, was in the courtroom, and wrote a victim impact statement read by Mr Needham.
Lee-Anne said on the day of her daughter's death she had been happy until receiving a phone call from police that there had been an accident.
Police told her to go to Kristie's home as all three boys were there.
On the way there she came across the scene of her family tragedy.
"I saw the accident. I was told that my beautiful daughter had passed," she wrote.
"Life will never be the same again."
Lee-Anne said she was affected every time she heard the sounds of sirens, or saw emergency services or ambulances.
She said unfortunately the three boys had to be split up as a result of their mother's death but the carers loved them.
The Crown sought a 2 ½-year jail sentence with actual time served, and a licence disqualification of three years.
Defence barrister Lars Falcongreen sought an 18-month to two-year sentence, with either immediate suspension or no more than four months to serve as this would send the message to the community about the driving standards required.
Mr Falcongreen said Westlake suffered trauma, flashbacks and nightmares, and rarely drove.
"It is a tragic incident and affected many peoples people's lives. My client is a fragile man, with many issues in his life," he said.
Mr Falcongreen said the criminality was brief in that Westlake failed to see the indicator lights. It was not speeding or deliberate skylarking.
His car had closed in on that vehicle to the point that he had to take evasive action, crossing the double white lines and into the path of the oncoming Subaru.
Judge McGill said the results had been tragic, causing the death of the mother of Westlake's two boys.
He said he understood people could not smoke in jail and this would make it more unpleasant for Westlake.
Westlake was sentenced to two years' jail, with the term to be suspended after he serves six months.
His licence was disqualified for one year.
Judge McGill said it might help in Westlake's rehabilitation if he could drive.