Sharon Cuthbert, pictured with her family, was killed when she was hit outside her Coolum Beach home.
Sharon Cuthbert, pictured with her family, was killed when she was hit outside her Coolum Beach home.

Appeal decision a ‘slap in the face’ to victim’s family

THE husband of a woman killed by a reckless driver says he feels "deflated" after a push by Queensland's Attorney-General to increase the jail term of his wife's killer was dismissed.

Michael Cuthbert said his family's "glimmer of hope" was dashed when they found out that the man who hit and killed Sharon Cuthbert outside their Coolum home in 2017 would serve no extra time behind bars.

'He deserves life in prison': Anger over driver's sentence

"We didn't get a result that was respectful of Sharon's life," Mr Cuthbert said.

"All we can do now is try and get on with our lives. At least the court process is over now."

 

A tree covered in flowers in tribute to Sharon Cuthbert near her home in Coolum Beach. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
A tree covered in flowers in tribute to Sharon Cuthbert near her home in Coolum Beach. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

 

Andrew David Muirhead, 41, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and in February was sentenced to three and a half years' jail with a non-parole period of one year.

Muirhead was found to have trace amounts of methamphetamine in his system and a blood-alcohol level of 0.034, but there was no allegation this contributed to the crash and the drug driving charge was not dealt with at the time he was sentenced.

The parole eligibility date devastated the Cuthbert family and their grief was compounded when Muirhead was again charged with drug-driving in August last year, a year after killing Mrs Cuthbert.

Queensland's Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath appealed the sentence on the grounds that it was too light and the judge failed to appreciate the seriousness of the offending and "tragic outcome".

 

Michael Cuthbert with daughters Makayla, 13 and Shylah, 11, at home in Coolum Beach. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Michael Cuthbert with daughters Makayla, 13 and Shylah, 11, at home in Coolum Beach. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

In Ms D'Ath's submission, she said the presence of ice and alcohol in Muirhead's blood and saliva at the time of the crash, and his "deplorable traffic history" should have been given more weight.

Muirhead had a traffic record that included 18 speeding fines, three counts of drink-driving and driving while disqualified.

The appeal was dismissed in a judgment decision handed down by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Three justices ruled that there was no error made by the judge whose sentence was "consistent" with the outcome intended for by the prosecutor at the sentencing hearing.

"I accept that the head sentence and the minimum term imposed by his Honour were at or towards the lower end of the sentencing outcome," Justice Michael Buss noted.

"However, I am not persuaded … that his Honour failed to appreciate the seriousness of the applicant's offending."

 

Ninderry MP Dan Purdie said the result is a ‘slap in the face’. Picture: Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Ninderry MP Dan Purdie said the result is a ‘slap in the face’. Picture: Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

 

Ninderry MP Dan Purdie, who tabled a petition to parliament with almost 8000 signatures demanding the appeal, was scathing of the decision.

"It's appalling to think this man who killed an innocent wife and mother will be eligible for parole in a few short months," Mr Purdie said.

"This is an absolute slap in the face for the Cuthbert family, and in no way meets the community's expectations of justice in this state."

Muirhead, who was seeking to have his sentence reduced, also had his appeal dismissed.

He will be eligible for parole in February 2020. - NewsRegional

News Corp Australia


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