I figured that I would add the following after the general consensus at the time of the crash was that we would wait to see what the verdict was and resume the discussions from there (original post).
In case you don’t recall, I am one of the brothers of the mother in the other car. My sister, her husband and their two young children were returning home from a night at family’s place for the Olympics opening ceremony when this occurred. Comments regarding the verdict below the report…
**Taken from the Wednesday August 5 Canberra Times**
- A young Canberra woman who was on drugs when she crashed her car, causing the death of her 16-year-old friend, was given a suspended sentence and community service yesterday.
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Ashleigh Jane Williams, 19, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to negligent driving causing death and negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm over the crash that killed 16-year-old Amy Ryan in Conder last year.
The court heard that Williams was behind the wheel of a car that crossed on to the wrong side of Tharwa Drive early on the morning of August 9 last year, hitting another car that contained a mother and her two young children.
Ms Ryan suffered a head injury and died almost instantly, while the woman driving the other car sustained a broken leg in the crash and 14-month-old son was left with a broken collarbone.
Williams, who was also hurt, was found to have MDMA (ecstasy) and another drug, MDA, in her blood.
The teenager wept as Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill handed down a sentence of 15 months in prison to run concurrently and wholly suspended, a two-year good-behaviour bond, 12 months of probation, 240 hours of community service and she was banned from driving for 18 months.
At the time of the crash there had been talk of drugs being involved. To have it confirmed doesn’t make things any “better” or “easier”. If anything it makes the situation worse. It’s disappointing to think that there are people out there who have such a low regard for the safety of themselves or the people around them that they would do something so stupid as to drive while under the influence. I think that most people have an idea of the effects of ecstasy on people who take it, although I was interested to learn that the other drug in Ashleigh’s system, MDA, is known for having “psychedelic-like effects, such as visual hallucinations”.
Given my relationship to the victims of this incident, I obviously feel a little let down in what I consider to be light sentencing. However, having said that, I also know that just locking someone up for extended periods of time isn’t necessarily the answer either. What I would really like to see, and hope that it isn’t too late to implement, is for Ashleigh to go from school to school and recount first hand to the teens at these schools the event and the dangers of taking drugs and driving. I think that students who are entering their mid-to-late teens would benefit more from seeing the emotion of someone who was responsible for killing their friend than they would from just going to a police car lot and seeing a mangled wreck. And I certainly wouldn’t put a ridiculous hour or year limit. Each year there are going to be more young people thinking that they can do what they want and that it is all going to be ok… Ashleigh has the chance to do something positive here and serve as a constant reminder that we all have to be accountable for our actions.
Anyways, I put it to you, RiotACTers… What say you…?