The tragedy of a fatal crash is that the person responsible will eventually be released from jail, but the victim's family will never get their loved one back, a judge told Wagga court yesterday.
Judge Jon Williams' comments come as Lachlan Landrigan, 24, appeared at Wagga District Court via video link from Bathurst Correctional Facility on Wednesday for sentencing.
The Junee man pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death, and contravening an apprehended domestic violence order earlier in the year.
Court documents reveal Olivia Clements had been in a relationship with Landrigan when in March 2020, an AVO was taken out against him, ordering that he did not approach her.
On May 31, 2020, Landrigan was driving a utility - owned and registered by Ms Clements, who was sitting in the front passenger seat - when he approached a right-hand bend on Pattersons Road, Harefield.
After failing to negotiate the turn, the car came off the road before clipping one tree and hitting another head-on.
Landrigan extricated himself from the ute and dragged Ms Clements out of the car before immediately calling triple-0.
The court documents state he was "highly distressed" as he followed the operator's instructions to perform CPR before emergency personnel arrived a short time later and pronounced Ms Clements dead at the scene.
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Landrigan was taken to Wagga Base Hospital to treat a bruised lung and fractured ribs.
During sentencing proceedings on Wednesday, defence barrister Christine Mendes said that the nature of the matter arose in "tragic circumstances", acknowledging that Ms Clements' family members were in the courtroom.
She said Landrigan had asked her to extend his condolences on his behalf to the family.
The defence and prosecution handed up written submissions to Judge Williams, but made short verbal arguments in court.
Ms Mendes noted that her client had already served a large proportion of what his non-parole period sentence would likely be.
"It's not a case of abandonment of responsibility ... it's acknowledged there was a degree of inattention that went beyond momentary," she said.
Ms Mendes asked the judge to deal with the contravention of the AVO with a conviction without penalty.
Crown prosecutor Lisa Hanshaw said it was "above momentary inattention".
"It is one [bend] any competent driver paying attention to this road would have been able to negotiate," she said.
"He is someone who was disqualified then cancelled then unlicensed ... he is not someone who has ever satisfied anyone that he is a person who is able to hold a driver's licence and drive responsibly."
Ms Hanshaw said Landrigan "simply had no business driving a car at all", adding he was on bail and had an AVO against him, which included an order not to contact the victim.
Ms Mendes said that there are no aggravating factors to be found in the case.
"There were also active attempts of the [protected] parties on the order to have it varied," she said. "The driving itself is fairly ordinary ... it's not a matter where speed, alcohol or drugs played a role."
Judge Williams said the sad thing about these cases is whilst the offender will eventually be released, "the victim's family don't get the victim back ever".
"It's an impossible situation trying to weigh up the value of a person's life to what punishment may be given," he said.
The case returns to court on Friday, where Judge Williams will hand down his sentence.
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