A fatal crash on Bangalow Road, Lismore, near Howards Grass Road where a 55 year old Booyung woman died. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
A fatal crash on Bangalow Road, Lismore, near Howards Grass Road where a 55 year old Booyung woman died. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Man jailed over crash which killed Booyong woman

A CASINO man wiped tears from his eyes as he was sentenced to 12 months in jail over the "senseless" car crash death of a 55-year-old Booyong woman on the Bangalow-Lismore Rd in 2015.

Kenneth John Roberts, 44, looked at the floor for the duration of his hour-long sentencing in Lismore District Court handed down by Judge Laura Wells.

Court documents state Roberts was nursing a headache while driving his blue Nissan Navara back from a job interview in Brisbane on the fateful morning of March 13, 2015.

He had left Casino at 4.45am that morning to attend the 8.45am interview in Stapleton before promptly leaving Brisbane to return home just after 9am.

Roberts later told police he had stopped at Chinderah service centre on the Pacific Highway to purchase some Panadol to soothe his headache, taking two tablets and resting for 20 minutes.

It wasn't enough to improve his driving.

While driving west on Bangalow Rd near Clunes a driver travelling behind the Navara watched for several kilometres as the car veered erratically on to the wrong side of the road and back again while speeding up and slowing down.

It was at the end of a long bend just east of the intersection with Howards Grass Rd when Roberts crossed the lines for the last time.

His Navara collided with an oncoming Hyundai i30 hatchback which had tried to swerve to avoid him, but was too late.

The crash took place in a temporary 60kmh zone where roadworks had been occurring. Police investigators later reconstructed the crash and calculated the Navara was travelling between 72 and 80kmh.

As a result of the crash, Booyong woman Virginia Hanlon, the front seat passenger in the Hyundai, was fatally injured. Ms Hanlon died at the scene.

Both Roberts and the driver of the Hyundai were able to free themselves from the wreckage and were later transported to Lismore Base Hospital with minor injuries.

After an investigation Roberts was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, not keeping left of the dividing line, and exceeding the speed limit by more than 10kmh. He later entered guilty pleas to all charges.

In sentencing Roberts on Tuesday, Judge Laura Wells found special circumstances in Roberts' favour which limited his non-parole period to 12 months.

She said Roberts had made substantial progress in rehabilitating his lifestyle and managing his fragile psychological state and was unlikely to reoffend.

But Judge Wells said nothing could negate the impact of his actions in causing the death of Mrs Hanlon and a period of full-time custody was necessary.

"Those close to her will have their lives completely changed," she noted.

Roberts will be eligible for release on August 22 2018 and is disqualified from driving until August, 22 2020.



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