A teen driver who killed a young couple and their unborn baby after ploughing into them in a stolen car has lost a bid to reduce his 10-year jail sentence.
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, 2021.
The driver, who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time, ran a red light and collided with a truck, before rolling and hitting the couple.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals judges at Brisbane’s Supreme Court ruled the teen would continue to serve his 10-year sentence.
The prosecution had argued the sentence – which gave the opportunity for parole after six years – was too lenient, while the defence said it was too harsh.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had called for a 14-year sentence, with the families of the victims also pushing for a longer jail term.
The now-19-year-old will be eligible for parole on Australia Day, 2027.
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 teenager had a blood alcohol content between 0.151 and 0.192 per cent at the time of the crash and had been drinking and smoking cannabis from 10am that day.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and several other charges and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, the maximum sentence for a child, in June.
Ms Leadbetter and Mr Field had been walking their dog when they were struck. The couple and their unborn child Miles died at the scene.
The teenage driver fled, stealing keys from a nearby house before being caught by a resident and arrested.
The young couple were six months pregnant with their first child at the time of the crash
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,’ a judge said during sentencing last June.
The teenager, 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.
In June, the couple’s devastated families fought back tears in court.
‘Australia Day will now have a whole new meaning for us. It will be a remembrance day,’ Mr 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.’
The Toyota Land Cruiser that the teenager was driving at the time of the crash
Ann Field said her son and Ms Leadbetter had been extremely happy.
‘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.
‘We will never see our girl again, never have grandchildren. Our family is destroyed.’