A remorseful driver who killed a woman while driving dangerously on a rural road south of Braidwood has been spared being sent to jail, although a judge has noted that the loss his victim’s family and wider community had suffered from her death was “immeasurable”.
Matthew Joseph Reeves was speeding along Cooma Road at Bendoura in his ute on the afternoon of 22 February 2022 when, while negotiating a left bend, he drifted out of his lane and collided with a car driven by Ann-Marie Rosengren.
Ms Rosengren had been driving her Toyota Prado in the opposite direction to him and, tragically, died at the scene.
Reeves pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing death and appeared in the Queanbeyan District Court on Friday (30 June) to be sentenced by Judge Peter Whitford SC, who read his judgement over an audio-visual link from Sydney.
He called the incident a “tragic event” for Ms Rosengren’s family.
“No sentence can return a loved one and a life simply should not be measured by a sentence imposed on an offender,” he said.
He said six members of her family had provided statements for the court talking about her and the grief they endured.
He described the loss suffered by them and the community as “immeasurable” and said the court expressed its profound sympathies.
Reeves is a volunteer firefighter who lives in the rural region of Araluen, works as an earth moving contractor and is married with a young baby.
Judge Whitford said he had been driving just over the speed limit when he drifted out of his lane and caused the collision.
Also, he found it appeared he had drifted due to momentary inattention or distraction.
While Judge Whitford said the offence the 42-year-old had pleaded guilty to was serious and was one for which he faced 10 years’ jail, he found his moral culpability was low.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Furst provided an opinion for the court, suggesting Reeves’ ADHD was causally connected to his offending.
Judge Whitford said while the evidence pointed to this possibility, the psychiatrist had been equivocal in his opinion.
The judge did say Reeves had suffered himself due to the collision.
He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and ongoing despair and anxiety, and he said there was a palpable quantity and depth in his remorse.
The judge was satisfied there was little risk of Reeves reoffending and found he had good prospects of rehabilitation, which was best promoted in the community.
He was convicted and sentenced to one year and 10 months’ jail to be served via an intensive corrections order, a community-based sentence, and must complete 300 hours of community service. He was disqualified from driving for 12 months.