Australia Ice-affected driver jailed for killing man on Melbourne roadside

10:00  02 july  2018
10:00  02 july  2018 Source:

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A Victorian judge has shown mercy to a woman who killed a father on a Melbourne roadside while she was driving while on drugs, despite the "appalling" nature of her crime.

Tara Jane Brennan was sentenced to six and a half years' jail over the death of Alan Dunlop on May 7, 2016.

Brennan, 29, was under the influence of ice and cannabis at the time and was travelling at 83 kilometres per hour when she struck Mr Dunlop.

He was in the emergency lane of the Western Ring Road near Deer Park.

The father of three had been feeling unwell and was being sick on the side of the road.

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The court heard he was trapped under the car and died at the scene.

"This had tragic consequences for his family and friends, especially his mother and children," Judge Duncan Allen told her as she sobbed throughout the hour-long sentencing hearing.

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"He won't be present to share their joy … or assist in the difficult times," he said.

"Your remorse is palpable as it has been this morning as you have sobbed in the dock."

He set a non-parole period of three and half years.

The court heart Brennan had a low intellectual capacity and experienced mental health issues prompted by bullying and sexual assault through her teens and early 20s.

She was also affected by seven years of stalking by her ex-boyfriend.

She suffered post traumatic stress disorder, extreme depression and anxiety, had engaged in self-harm and attempted suicide multiple times.

'Always a place for mercy' in sentencing

But Judge Allen said that did not excuse her conduct.

The court heard Brennan was driving "all over the road" before the crash — tailgating other drivers, overtaking while speeding and drifting from lane to lane.

A blood test taken immediately after the crash showed she had 0.69 milligrams of methamphetamine in her system, which the judge told her "rendered you incapable of having proper control".

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A small amount of drugs was found in her car.

Judge Allen said he was extending mercy to the woman, acknowledging that prison would not help her numerous mental issues.

He was critical of the fact Brennan would "see little psychological support in jail".

"It is an indictment on our society, but that is my experience," he said.

Despite a "thoroughly and longitudinally dysfunctional background" and the rape and stalking by her ex-boyfriend — whom Judge Allen referred to as a "vile man" — the judge said Brennan had to go to prison.

"There is no doubt in my mind you suffer the most profound … shame and guilt that you have caused the death of this young man," he said.

"There must always be a place in sentencing for mercy.

"It's a fact that everyone in this case will suffer."

Victim was 'everyone's mate'

Mr Dunlop's mother, Karen Dunlop, expressed anger with the sentence and said the "law has got to change".

"She's only got three and a half years she's going to serve— that's nothing, that's not going to get my son back," she said.

"We've got a life sentence."

Mr Dunlop was on his way to help install windows at a friend's house when he was killed.

"That was completely typical of Al— he was basically pretty much everyone's mate," said Tim Archer, a friend and work colleague.

"If you met him, nothing was ever too much of a problem, he was always willing to help anyone."

Mr Archer was also critical of today's ruling.

"I don't think the state of Victoria should have licensed her to drive a car if she was that mentally incapable of making a decision for herself," he said.

"The tears today I don't think are for Al, I think they're self-pity.

"The fact is that this girl has lost her freedom through her own choice."

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