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Court hears killed girl's mother knew driver was on drugs

Colette Anne Stelzer with lawyer Damien Gates outside Ipswich Courthouse. Photo: Chris Owen / The Queensland Times
Colette Anne Stelzer with lawyer Damien Gates outside Ipswich Courthouse. Photo: Chris Owen / The Queensland Times Chris Owen

SOME would say Colette Anne Stelzer has already suffered enough.

The Ipswich mum's six-year-old daughter was killed in a car crash in which the driver was high on meth.

After more than two years since the tragedy, Stelzer was made to relive the nightmare all over again.

In relation to the crash, she appeared in Ipswich Magistrates Court, to plead guilty to one charge of negligent acts causing harm.

The fatal accident took place in Redbank Plains on the afternoon of August 14, 2012.

Stelzer and her three children had been living with the driver, Joshua Adam Thomas, his partner and their five kids.

On the day of the crash, Thomas had been smoking meth all day before he left to collect his three children and Stelzer's daughter from school and day care.

TAKEN TOO SOON: Aleigha Stelzer.
TAKEN TOO SOON: Aleigha Stelzer.

Sen Sgt Carmont said Stelzer, 29, knew Thomas's driving could have been dangerously affected by the drugs.

Thomas picked up the children and was returning home when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree.

Stelzer's daughter, Aleigha, was killed instantly. The other children were injured.

After the crash, Thomas was given a blood test and recorded a reading which showed more than twice the toxic level of the drug was in his system.

Defence lawyer for Stelzer, Damien Gates said his client has continued to struggle with the death of her daughter.

Mr Gates said there had never been any parenting issues with Stelzer, both before and after the crash.

He said she had no criminal history and was at no risk of re-offending.

"My client's loss of her daughter is a severe enough punishment in its own right," he said.

In addition to Ms Stelzer, Thomas's partner Nicole Leslie Jackson also appeared in court to plead guilty to the same charge.

The court heard that Jackson, 28, had argued with Thomas about his drug use the day of the crash.

However, she also admitted to police she knew Thomas had drugs in his system when he drove that day. Magistrate Deborah Vasta said both women had already been punished enough by their own actions.

She said the two mums would have to live with the guilt and knowledge that there was something they could have done to avoid the tragic outcome.

Stelzer and Jackson were not further punished. No convictions were recorded.

Thomas was sentenced to nine years in jail for a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death in May last year, with parole eligibility after three years.

His sentence however was reduced at an appeal last month to seven years with parole eligibility after two years and four months.

Topics:  ipswich magistrates court



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