Cheers as judge indicates he won't impose jail in Warrnambool woman's culpable driving case

FAMILY and friends cheered when a judge yesterday indicated he would spare a Warrnambool woman from jail after she ran over and killed her partner.

Kylie Maree Wythe, 40, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool County Court to culpable driving.

The courtroom, packed with Ms Wythe’s family and supporters, heard that on July 8, 2012, at 12.20am Ms Wythe ran over her partner Stephen John Haddrick in the driveway of an Aitkins Road home. 

Earlier in the night Mr Haddrick had gone to the Aitkins Road address around 9.40pm with a full bottle of Jack Daniels.

Later Mr Haddrick’s friend thought Mr Haddrick was drunk and needed to go home and sent Ms Wythe a text.

Ms Wythe, who had a blood alcohol reading of .15, drove to the house with her son in the car.

When she arrived she had a verbal disagreement with Mr Haddrick. She left as Mr Haddrick was lying on his back in the driveway. 

A short time later Ms Wythe’s son said they needed to go back and get Mr Haddrick but on her return she ran over Mr Haddrick.

Prosecutor Daniel Porceddu said Mr Haddrick suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Judge Gerard Mullaly told the court he would take the unusual course and indicate the sort of sentence he would impose.

He said he was acutely aware of the stress these types of proceedings placed on people and any delay bordered on cruel.

As Judge Mullaly said he intended to impose a suspended sentence, a cheer was heard from the public gallery.

He said the life of Mr Haddrick could not be measured by a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence because his life had been immeasurable.

The court heard a witness told police Ms Wythe was affected by alcohol but she wouldn’t describe her as drunk.

Police who attended the accident said Ms Wythe was heavily intoxicated, appeared oblivious to the situation and continually asked what had happened to Mr Haddrick.

A victim impact statement tendered to the court on behalf of Mr Haddrick’s sister said since her brother’s death she now had trouble making decisions and relied heavily on her husband.

She said she’d been heart-broken by the tragic death of Mr Haddrick.

The woman said her parents had decided not to write a victim impact statement because it was too confronting.

She said her mother now had trouble sleeping and broke down all the time. She said her father had been very quiet about it.

Defence counsel Stephen Payne said on the night, Ms Wythe and Mr Haddrick had consumed alcohol at home and Ms Wythe took a sleeping tablet and went to bed.

Mr Payne said she had no intention of leaving the house and it was her sense of obligation to Mr Haddrick that contributed to her decision to get behind the wheel and drive.

Mr Payne argued exceptional circumstances existed and that Ms Wythe should not be jailed. He said she was the sole carer for her daughter, who suffers from autism.

The court heard Ms Wythe’s daughter faced profound difficulties and also suffered from epileptic fits.

Education development psychologist Janine Bounds told the court the autism was severe and after working with Ms Wythe and observing the family unit, she didn’t know how she coped.

The court heard given the difficulties the girl faced it would be extremely difficult to think of someone who could care for her other than Ms Wythe.

Dr Bounds said if Ms Wythe was jailed the family would implode.

The court heard Ms Wythe’s sister and father would not be able to look after her children if she was jailed due to their own personal difficulties.

Judge Mullaly said he would hand down a sentence at a date yet to be fixed.

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