29 March 2022

Drug-driver pleads guilty to causing death of Sue Salthouse

| Albert McKnight
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Mitchell Ryan Laidlaw leaves court after pleading guilty to killing Sue Salthouse in a crash. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A driver has admitted he killed Sue Salthouse, a renowned disability rights activist and former Canberra Senior Citizen of the Year, in a crash two years ago.

Mitchell Ryan Laidlaw, aged in his 30s, pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable driving causing the death of Ms Salthouse when he appeared in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (29 March).

It was the day his trial had been scheduled to start, and he first announced he would fight the charge.

He also maintained his guilty plea to a count of driving with a prescribed drug in his oral fluid as a repeat offender.

The court heard the agreed facts of the case would hopefully be submitted later in the day.

READ ALSO A last honour for one of our finest: Sue Salthouse awarded posthumous AM, Mills also honoured

Laidlaw was originally accused of causing the death of Ms Salthouse in a crash at the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on 20 July 2020 when the 71-year-old was travelling south in her wheelchair-accessible motorcycle. She later died in hospital.

Police alleged he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the crash.

Sue Salthouse

Sue Salthouse was named 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year. Photo: Supplied.

The court heard while the sentencing process could start this week, Laidlaw’s barrister Kieran Ginges wanted the time to possibly obtain a court report and Crown Prosecutor Anthony Williamson wanted to see if Ms Salthouse’s family would provide victim impact statements, which would mean it would not finish this week.

READ ALSO Driver blinded in brutal crash that left his victim with ‘life-changing’ injuries

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum continued Laidlaw’s bail to Thursday (31 March) for the sentencing to begin.

Ms Salthouse, who was named the 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year, was known as a fierce and passionate advocate for people with a disability and, in particular, women with a disability.

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