A drug-fuelled teenager who killed a couple and their unborn son when he ploughed into them in a stolen car will be released from custody six years after the tragedy.
Kate Leadbetter, 31, and her partner Matthew Field, 37, were about to become parents for the first time, to a son they named Miles, when they were run over in Alexandra Hills in eastern Brisbane on Australia Day.
The driver, who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time, ran a red light at Alexandra Hills while driving Landcruiser, colliding with a truck before rolling and hitting the couple.
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
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.
Mr Field, 37, Ms Leadbetter, 31, and their unborn baby – who was to be named Miles – died at the scene.
The teen fled, stealing keys from a nearby house before being caught by a resident and arrested.
Justice Martin Burns said the tragedy was as an ‘almost inevitable consequence’ of the teen’s actions in the lead up to the crash.
The teenager – who was first charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and a raft of other charges – stood stony-faced as he was sentenced.
Ms Leadbetter and Mr Field were six months pregnant with their first child at the time of the crash
Justice Burns said taking into account the teen’s protracted period of extremely dangerous driving that culminated in a grossly negligent final act, he regarded the manslaughter offences as ‘particularly heinous’.
But the teenager had to be sentenced as a child, with the ‘grave nature of offending’ balanced by his youth.
The sentence was also based on the teenager not intending to kill or do grievous bodily harm.
‘No sentence will be adequate … (and) can’t do justice to the suffering you have caused,’ Justice Burns told the teenager.
The then 17-year-old had stolen the Landcruiser 20 minutes before the fatal collision, driving ‘dangerously for a sustained period at extreme speeds’ with no regard for anyone’s safety, Justice Burns said.
The teen, who had a learner’s permit, drove sometimes at twice the speed limit, on the wrong side of the road, doing a burnout on soccer fields, hitting one vehicle and nearly crashing on numerous occasions.
The Toyota Land Cruiser that the teenager was driving at the time of the crash
Justice Burns said he was travelling at 102 km/h five seconds before the crash, with his brake lights seen to illuminate just before the collision.
The teenager’s upbringing was ‘marked by significant deprivation and neglect’, Justice Burns said.
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, sometimes living in parks.
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.’
Ann Field said her son and Ms Leadbetter were extremely happy and that she now felt paralysed.
‘They had a beautiful life together and they were bringing a beautiful life into this world,’ Mrs Field said.
Ms Leadbetter’s mother Jeannie Thorne described her only child as ‘the light of our lives, the hope for our future’ and broke down while describing the ‘unbearable … gaping hole in our everyday existence’.
‘I should be in my other life, the one that’s been ripped away, the life of a mother and a grandmother, I should be holding her baby boy,’ Ms Thorne said, reports the ABC.
‘We will never see our girl again, never have grandchildren. Our family is destroyed.’
John Leadbetter said he would never properly move on and would swap places with his daughter in a heartbeat.