A YOUNG woman who was speeding when she drove through a red light in Perth and crashed into a great grandmother’s car, killing the 91-year-old, will serve just four months in prison.
Leeanna Sharon Ferguson, 19, was inattentive for at least six seconds when she ploughed into Dorothy Smith’s vehicle at 82 km/h in a 60 zone in Floreat in June 2018, the WA District Court heard on Tuesday.
Ms Smith died at Royal Perth Hospital from multiple injuries, including the most serious to her head and neck.
Judge Linda Petrusa said Ms Smith had been the matriarch of an extended family that was left heartbroken by her death.
She described Ferguson’s driving as inexplicable, noting Ferguson was familiar with the area and it had been a clear day.
“You were being inattentive,” Judge Petrusa said.
“The light was clearly red (and) had been for some sustained period of time.
“To be speeding when you are not paying attention is further evidence of the dangerous nature of your driving.”
The court heard Ferguson had previously lost her licence within a few months of gaining it in 2017 over a careless driving incident in which she failed to negotiate a bend and hit a barrier, injuring two people including her brother.
Until recently Ferguson, who had completed basic training for the army, was staying in a private residential psychiatric facility as she grappled with her remorse and the death of a friend in a separate crash.
Judge Petrusa said Ferguson had a genuine understanding of the pain she had caused Ms Smith’s family.
“(You) will have to live with the knowledge of what you have done,” she said.
Judge Petrusa said general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor and she had to send a message to the community that driving was a privilege, adding motorists were in charge of a weapon.
“Dorothy Smith had every right to feel safe driving through that intersection,” she said.
Ferguson was sentenced to two years in prison but it was partially suspended, so she will only serve four months behind bars.
She was also banned from driving for three years.
Outside court, Ms Smith’s family said safe and responsible driving was essential.
“Today, justice was done but our dear, dear matriarch is no longer with us,” her son-in-law said.
Ms Smith’s daughter described her mother’s death as a “monumental loss”.
“She was an incredibly strong, beautiful, tough lady from the country,” she said.
Her grandson described Ms Smith as “the best grandma ever”.