‘Vigilantes’ involved in crash that killed woman
The State Government has promised sweeping changes to youth bail laws after an innocent woman was hit and killed by what is being investigated as a carload of "vigilantes" in pursuit of youths in a stolen car.
Police are investigating whether three people in a Holden Statesman tried to chase down a stolen Hyundai in Townsville - a town plagued by recidivist juvenile offenders - resulting in the tragic death of 22-year-old aspiring police officer Jennifer Board.
It is understood detectives are examining whether up to four young people were in the stolen Hyundai and suspect the driver is an 18-year-old who was on bail and has a history of stealing cars.
The alleged "vigilantes" have not been charged and are currently assisting police with their investigation.
The death of Ms Board, described by her sister as "beautiful, kind" and "the most genuine soul" comes less than two weeks after Alexandra Hills couple Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field were killed by an allegedly stolen car driven by a juvenile on bail.
The couple, who were expecting their first child, were killed on Australia Day when an allegedly stolen 4WD ran a red light, hit a truck and rolled into them as they were walking their dogs.
Their deaths prompted days of debate around bail laws and penalties imposed on young offenders.
Ms Board, a gym manager with a passion for fitness, was riding her motorcycle along Ross River Rd in Kirwan when she was hit by the out-of-control Holden shortly before 10pm Friday.
Superintendent Glen Pointing said they were still working to determine who was in the stolen car, which had been taken during a break-in at a home in nearby Mount Louisa during the early hours of Friday morning.
"It will be alleged that this Statesman sedan had aggressively followed this stolen vehicle, collided with the rear of the vehicle (and) the driver of the Statesman has then lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centre median strip and collided head on with a motorcycle travelling in the opposite direction," he said.
"Tragically, as a result of that incident, a 22-year-old local girl died.
"The driver of the stolen vehicle fled the scene and that vehicle was located about an hour later in Garbutt."
He alleged the Statesman had chased the Hyundai "at speed" before crashing into its rear.
"Our sympathies lie with the family of the deceased victim," Supt Pointing said.
"It's a tragic incident that no family should have to experience."
The alleged driver of the Statesman, a 25-year-old from Bushland Beach, and his two passengers, a 41-year-old Kirwan man and a 22-year-old Aitkenvale woman, were yesterday "assisting police".
"I'd very strongly caution about any form of vigilante action," Supt Pointing said.
"Oftentimes, while people might have good intentions, it results in unintended consequences.
"It's dangerous and you leave yourself exposed if you take action yourselves.
"In very strong terms, I advise people not to take the law into their own hands."
Supt Pointing urged anyone who had spotted either car on Friday night to contact police.
Ms Board's death prompted an announcement by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that sweeping changes around juvenile crime would be announced this week.
Ms Palaszczuk on Saturday said "everything is on the table" - but did not reveal what changes would be announced.
"I met yesterday with the Ministers for Police and Youth Justice and the Attorney-General as well as the heads of their departments and there will be announcements," she said.
The Premier said the crash was "a terrible tragedy on so many levels".
"My thoughts and prayers go out to loved ones, family and friends," she said.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the "tragic loss of life" - allegedly involving vigilantes pursuing a stolen car - showed "the increasingly lawless nature of Townsville".
"I share the frustration of all North Queenslanders with the unending juvenile crime and car theft, and this is the reason we urgently need to get fair dinkum with my suggestions for remote engine immobilisers, tightening bail laws for juveniles and immediately implementing GPS tracking anklets for recidivist juveniles.
"I have had discussions with the government this week where I have urged them to adopt my recommendations and they cannot delay another day with these vital changes.
"As frustrating as the situation is, I beg the public to leave policing up to the police."
LNP MP and former police officer Dan Purdie said: "The news out of Townsville is an absolute tragedy and another innocent life lost to the crime epidemic gripping our state."
"Instances of vigilantism have been increasing in Townsville and other communities across Queensland over the past few years and police have rightly been working hard to deter it.
"The highest priority of any government is the safety and security of its citizens. When individuals and communities have lost confidence in the government to keep them safe, and feel they have to take matters into their own hands, the government has essentially failed in its highest priority."
Katters Australia Party MP Nick Dametto, whose electorate of Hinchinbrook included Ms Board's home town of Ingham, said her death sent a wave of "anger and shock" through the community.
"There's disbelief we've got to this point," he said.
'We've had four civilian lives lost to this youth crime crisis spreading across Queensland … in the space of a fortnight.
"There is a complete lack of respect for not only the judicial system but for their fellow man and community."
A shattered Mr Dametto demanded the government fast-track emergency legislation to get tougher on troublemaking youths.
"We need to be moving faster on this … to find ways to deter people before we face tragedy," he said.
"I challenge the Labor Government, the first sitting week of parliament should be dedicated to dealing with this youth crime crisis.
"I'll be taking this fight up personally."
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said he was devastated to hear another life was lost.
"My thoughts are with the family, friends and community who are trying to come to terms with what's happened," he said.
"We will strongly discuss ways to improve this broken system once the community has had time to reflect on this tragic loss," he said.
Originally published as 'Vigilantes' involved in crash that killed 'beautiful' Jennifer