Jaleh Lea Forsythe received a suspended sentence for killing pedestrian Christopher Ross in 2017. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Jaleh Lea Forsythe received a suspended sentence for killing pedestrian Christopher Ross in 2017. Picture: AAP/John Gass

Mum spared jail because of autistic son

A TOURIST who killed a pedestrian at a busy Woolloongabba intersection because she was distracted by Google Maps has been spared jail time because of her autistic son.

Jaleh Lea Forsythe, 37, ran a red light and mowed down 27-year-old Brisbane man Christopher Ross as he crossed the road nearby the Stanley St bus station in October 2017.

He died 35 days later from serious head injuries.

The Victorian woman yesterday walked from the Brisbane District Court with a two-year suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.

The court heard Forsythe was inattentive for up to nine seconds on the day of the crash after getting lost driving from the Sunshine Coast.

Her eight-year-old son, who suffers from severe medical problems, was highly agitated and trying to get out of his seat and she was using Google Maps to find a Brisbane hotel, the court heard.

After the accident, Forsythe ran from the car saying: "I didn't see him, I didn't see him, I was talking to my son, he is autistic."

The court heard Forsythe was in Queensland so the boy could have a holiday with his father, which did not eventuate.

They were planning to return home to Melbourne when the accident happened.

"She was driving in a city she was unfamiliar with, (at) an intersection she was unfamiliar with, having had her son's incessant demands at her, in a situation of high anxiety," defence barrister Chris Minnery said.

"She was driving into the glare from the sun … accessing her phone GPS to find out where she was going.

"She absolutely accepts responsibility. She absolutely accepts she must be punished."

The court heard Forsythe's son, who she cares for alone, was autistic, has ADHD, uncontrolled bowel movements and was violent and hard to manage.

The court heard he would suffer "catastrophic" hardship if his mother went to jail.

"It is impossible to lose sight of the fact that an entirely blameless person has lost his life because of your actions," Judge Deborah Richards said.

"Normally … I would not hesitate imposing actual imprisonment.

"I have come to the conclusion that despite the tragic circumstances as a result of your behaviour, this is a case where extreme hardship would enviably result from your imprisonment."

The sentence was suspended for four years and a conviction was recorded.



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