20 July 2023

'Don't expect much justice' in ACT: Police union lashes sentence for killer teen

| Albert McKnight
religious tribute at crash site

Memorials were left at the scene of the crash on the Monaro Highway. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The police union has blasted the sentence given to the teenager who killed two girls in a car crash on the Monaro Highway, which will see him spend two years in jail.

The killer had been 16, drunk and speeding when he killed 14-year-old Susi Kopysiewicz and her best friend, 15-year-old Claire Sankey, in a crash on the highway on 9 October 2022.

He was still on his L plates and had taken the keys to his mother’s car. Afterwards, he and a friend ran from the scene and caught an Uber back to his home, leaving the girls in the car.

On Wednesday (19 July), the ACT Supreme Court sentenced the now-17-year-old to a total of three years and 10 months’ jail over the crash and other offences, suspended after he served two years in prison.

As he has been locked up since he was arrested shortly after the crash, this means he will be released in October 2024.

After the sentencing, the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) announced it was “dismayed” at the two-year jail period and paid its respects to the families and friends of Claire and Susi.

READ MORE Teen had already smashed stolen car before he killed two girls in Monaro Highway crash

“If you’re a victim in Canberra, don’t expect much justice,” AFPA president Alex Caruana said.

“That is the sad reality of the system in the ACT.”

He said the sentence was further evidence that an in-depth independent review of the ACT sentencing and bail regime was urgently required.

monaro highway crash

The car was severely damaged after the crash on the Monaro Highway on 9 October 2022. Photo: Tendered to the court.

The teenager had previously been sentenced over other crimes and was on bail over two incidents, including a robbery, at the time of the crash.

He had fled the scene, “leaving them to die on the roadside”, Mr Caruana said.

“The question that the judiciary and Attorney-General must answer is this: would these two young teenagers be alive today if the judiciary had previously refused this young man bail?” he said.

“If the Attorney-General actually believes this sentence is aligned with community expectations in the ACT, he’s sadly mistaken.”

READ ALSO Government ‘not sure’ if it will meet repeat offender reduction targets set for 2025

The AFPA will continue to lobby for an in-depth independent review of bail and sentencing.

The teenager pleaded guilty to and was convicted on two counts of culpable driving causing death as well as single counts of failing to render assistance, being an unaccompanied learner driver, robbery, attempted theft and possessing a knife without a reasonable excuse.

When sentencing him on Wednesday (19 July), Justice David Mossop said as he was under 18, rehabilitation was a very significant consideration in sentencing.

Australian Federal Police Association president Alex Caruana

“If you’re a victim in Canberra, don’t expect much justice,” Australian Federal Police Association president Alex Caruana has said. Photo: Albert McKnight.

He said the teenager first drank alcohol when he was 13, then started using cannabis, cocaine, MDMA and LSD.

“His mother tried to get him off drugs, but he didn’t listen,” Justice Mossop said.

The justice did say there had been a significant change in the teenager since his incarceration for the crash and he had been polite and respectful while in custody.

He said due in part to the teenager’s personal circumstances and the desire for him to be supervised in the community, spending two years in jail before having his sentence suspended was appropriate.

When he is released from custody, he must complete a good behaviour order for 22 months with an extra condition that he be placed under supervision by authorities.

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