Teen may face third charge as anger builds on laws

 

Outraged relatives of a pregnant couple killed while walking their dogs - allegedly by a teenager on bail in a stolen car - have called for youth justice laws to be strengthened, saying "enough is enough".

And the teen charged with their murders could yet face a third charge, with detectives awaiting medical records relating to the unborn child.

Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field were walking their dogs near their home at Alexandra Hills southeast of Brisbane on Tuesday evening when an allegedly stolen car ran a red light and crashed into a truck before ploughing into them.

Kate, 31, and Matthew, 37, died at the scene despite the frantic efforts of bystanders and emergency services.

The tragedy has reignited the debate around juvenile offender laws, with frustrated police saying the "catch and release" method of dealing with teens was not working.

 

Crash victims Kate Leadbetter and Matty Field
Crash victims Kate Leadbetter and Matty Field

 

Last night, Kate's aunt and uncle, Danielle and Jason Leadbetter, visited the scene of the crash where they told The Courier-Mail of their devastation.

"(Kate) was just everything that is beautiful in this world," Danielle said.

"So Queenslanders posting on social media, I'm reading it, you're angry, let's change the laws, take this anger and change it into something positive so it's not your child that you are burying one day. I hope Annastacia Palaszczuk and our lawmakers are watching this and they change our laws … enough is enough."

She described Kate, an interior designer who only recently returned to work after time off due to the COVID pandemic, as a "joyful" person.

"I remember Kate as my flower girl at my wedding. She was just so joyful," she said.

"It's hard to believe that someone doing such a selfish act could take someone's life," she said.

Ms Leadbetter said she would contact Peter Dutton and ask him to change the laws nationwide.

 

A child looks at the growing floral tributes at the scene of the tragedy. Picture: Nigel Hallett
A child looks at the growing floral tributes at the scene of the tragedy. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

"No more loss of lives, no more young families being killed because young offenders want to have their moment of fame," she said.

The Courier-Mail understands the teenager was on bail for other driving offences when he allegedly stole a car and crashed into two other vehicles in separate incidents before hitting the couple.

"I am limited from a legal basis to the amount of detail I can provide in relation to the alleged offender and his circumstances," Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said yesterday.

"His history and any interactions he may have had - as is the case with anybody - with the justice system will be reviewed with partner agencies as a matter of course.

"Here's two people going about their business innocently on Australia Day walking their dogs.

"To have them ripped away from their families is an absolute tragedy and I can assure you it's impacted very, very heavily on the first responders and the witnesses who faced that.

"It shouldn't happen."

Detectives are now trying to trace the movements of a 17-year-old from Waterford West, who they allege stole a Toyota LandCruiser from a Cleveland home between 4pm and 5pm on Tuesday.

 

The teen (centre) charged with the murders of Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field
The teen (centre) charged with the murders of Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field

 

At 5.10pm, he was filmed gesturing angrily to another driver at the intersection of Vienna and Finucane roads in Alexandra Hills.

The exchange was filmed by another motorist, who could be heard screaming as the 4WD took off from the lights and then allegedly deliberately crashed into the other car.

The woman who filmed the crash could be heard calling police for help.

Mr Codd said police had been unable to find the teen or the stolen car in the 15 minutes between the call and the deaths of Kate and Matthew.

He said it was that same intersection where the LandCruiser allegedly returned and ran a red light "at speed" and collided with a truck.

"The LandCruiser has rolled and struck two pedestrians who were crossing the road at the time," he said.

"Despite the incredible efforts of witnesses and later (paramedics) both pedestrians died at the scene."

Mr Codd said police would allege the teen ran from the crash site into a nearby street where he stole a set of keys from a house and attempted to steal a car.

 

Kate Leadbetter’s aunt and uncle Danielle and Jason Leadbetter. Picture: Cormac Pearson
Kate Leadbetter’s aunt and uncle Danielle and Jason Leadbetter. Picture: Cormac Pearson

 

He said the teen was then chased from the house by the owner, who stopped him until police arrived.

The teen has been charged with two counts of murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, two counts of burglary, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and attempted unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Another Leadbetter family member told The Courier-Mail they were now focused on dealing with their grief.

"We just want to stick together as a family at the moment and deal with it," the family member said.

"We want to thank the community for everything they've done."

The charges were briefly heard in the Brisbane Children's Court yesterday.

Mr Codd said police were awaiting "confirmation of the pregnancy" but consider further charges.

"There is provision under the criminal code for offences relating to the killing of unborn children and it is certainly something we will be considering as part of the ongoing investigation," he said.

He called for anyone with information on the tragedy to call police.

Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000

 

 

 

 

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Originally published as Teen may face third charge as anger builds on laws



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