Court: Owen “minimised the seriousness” of fatal crash
LENNOX Head identity Louise Maria Owen will spend at least a year behind bars following a Lismore District Court decision not to allow the Lennox Head woman to serve her sentence in home detention.
Owen was handed an 18-month jail sentence with a 12-month non-parole period in February after being found guilty of dangerous driving over a crash that killed Casino woman Heather Flack, 62, on March 20, 2012.
Owen was in the witness box yesterday for the first time since the trial began as Judge L Wells considered the question of whether to allow her home detention.
Defence lawyer Cameron Bell asked Owen how she felt about someone losing their life as a result of her driving.
"Extremely upset for the family," she said. "I'm very sorry for causing an accident that has caused them so much pain and anguish."
Mr Bell asked her to respond to a Community Corrections home detention assessment report tendered in court that said she "minimised the seriousness" of her offence.
"I don't agree with that," Owen said. "It was a terrible, tragic accident and I'm responsible for that accident happening and I don't believe that's minimising it."
Owen was also asked why she failed to attend community corrections appointments, to which she replied she had been sick "to the point where I couldn't get out of bed" and on another occasion had been on a course that she had notified community corrections about.
However, the Crown Prosecutor said Owen was still failing to take responsibility for her actions, citing a notice of intention to appeal her sentence that had been submitted by Owen.
He also said Owen told Community Corrections just days ago she intended to move back to Lennox Head.
"It's just one more example of you snubbing your nose at the court's orders and community service," he said.
Owen told the court she asked Community Corrections if she could move, rather than told them she would.
The crown prosecutor also cited a psychology report describing Owen as a "chronic risk to herself and others".
He said that was demonstrated by an assault on a witness and a threat against him when the jury handed down its guilty verdict.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Wells said the home detention report labelled Owen's engagement with mental health services as "superficial" and found she was "unsuitable" for home detention.
Judge Wells said Owen's lack of apology, assaults on a witness, threat against the Crown Prosecutor and her disregard for bail-ordered appointments meant "there could be no confidence that she will comply if placed under supervision in the future".
"This court can't also be confident, given her attitude, that she will not re-offend in some way," she said.
Judge Wells described Owen's apology to the victim's family as "begrudging".