Mum fined for tragic car crash
A MOTHER has been found guilty of driving without due care and attention in a crash that claimed the life of her 10-year-old daughter and injured her granddaughter.
Melissa-Anne Hennessy, 38, whose licence was suspended at the time, was driving her two daughters - Shayla and Alicea - and her granddaughter, when the car ran off the road and overturned on November 20, 2009.
Shayla, 10, was killed and Alicea's daughter, then aged nine months, suffered a fractured skull and was resuscitated at the scene.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard the granddaughter received brain damage from the accident and was likely to have long-term problems.
Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin said Hennessy, to a degree, had punished herself already.
"It wasn't some unknown third party she killed - it was someone she loved," Mr McLaughlin said.
Mr McLaughlin said Hennessy had not been driving dangerously but the crash had been caused by "a momentary lack of attention".
The court heard Hennessy drove the car off the side of Ripley Rd and tried to correct herself by veering back, but the car slid to the left and crashed into a tree.
In a hearing in June a witness who arrived on the scene after the crash told the court they heard something about the driver and a phone.
However, Mr McLaughlin said there was insufficient proof she had been on the phone.
"The evidence as it stands clearly shows the vehicle left the track and there is no evidence of an intervening factor," Mr McLaughlin said.
Defence lawyer David Love said his client had been upset about an RSPCA Animal Rescue TV film crew that had been at the family home earlier in the day.
Hennessy was fined $1200.
She had already pleaded guilty to driving while suspended and was disqualified for six months.
For driving without due care she was disqualified for nine months, to be served concurrently with the six months.