THE mother of a Bathurst teenager who died in a car crash last year says she feels let down by the courts after the vehicle's driver avoided a jail term.
Khylea Heard's 13-year-old daughter Melody Hawkins was critically injured in the crash near Wattle Flat on October 12, 2018, and died 11 days later in Westmead Hospital, having never regained consciousness.
The driver of the car, Tara Lee Stewart, 19, of Fish Parade, was sentenced in Lithgow Local Court last month and, despite submissions by the Crown that no sentence other than full-time jail was appropriate, she was placed on a nine-month Intensive Corrections Order.
Stewart was also disqualified from holding a driver's licence for three years, undertake 150 hours of community service work and complete the Traffic Offenders Program.
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Ms Heard told the Western Advocate the result had devastated her.
She said the courts needed to send a message to drivers, and particularly young drivers, that there were consequences if a person was injured or killed in a car they were driving.
She hoped the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would appeal the sentence handed to Stewart, saying it was the only way to get justice for her daughter.
"Young drivers need to know there are consequences. [Stewart] has never shown any remorse for what she has done, she has never said sorry," Ms Heard said.
Ms Heard said while it would never bring Melody back, an apology from the driver "may have made a difference".
Ms Heard said she "wasn't happy" to hear the sentence handed down in Lithgow on November 15.
What can I do? There has been no justice for Melody.Khylea Heard
"But what can I do? There has been no justice for Melody," she said.
"[It's] really hard to accept that Melody will never be coming home.
"Young drivers need to realise the lives of other people are in their hands."
Tara Lee Stewart had previously pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death and two counts of causing bodily harm by misconduct in charge of a motor vehicle following the crash in October 2018.
Her solicitor Mason Manwaring submitted to the court last month that it was a difficult case where an adult, but still a young person, was responsible for the death of another young person.
He said his client, as a very inexperienced driver on a dirt road, had attempted to manoeuvre around potholes. She went to the wrong side of the road and when coming back to the right side, lost control of the vehicle.
Ms Heard said she has tried to remain strong for her other children since Melody's death but it had been hard.
She was 33 weeks pregnant at the time of the crash and the stress had put her into early labour. Her son, Xander, was born five days after Melody's death.
The Western Advocate contacted the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the matter but a spokesperson declined to comment.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated Tara Lee Stewart had been handed an 18-month Community Corrections Order. The incorrect information had been provided to the Western Advocate by Courts NSW media unit.
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