Jail over tragic deaths

THE speeding driver who killed 11-year-old Hannah Bush and her grandmother Norma Skinner has been sentenced to 5½ years in prison.

Man To Cheng, 23, of Hong Kong, will have to serve at least three years and nine months of that sentence before he is eligible for parole, after pleading guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death. 

Following yesterday’s sentencing, Hannah’s parents said they hoped the sentence sent a message to drivers that reckless behaviour on the roads could not be tolerated.

Cheng’s father and sister travelled from Hong Kong to support him, and after the sentence had been handed down, Cheng’s sister embraced Mr and Mrs Bush and other supporters. 

Cheng, who was in Australia on a working holiday visa, was travelling at more than 120km/h on Fifteenth Street when he crashed into the car being driven by Mrs Skinner.

A crash investigator found that if Cheng had have been driving at the speed limit, Mrs Skinner would have safely cleared the intersection by about 10 metres.

Judge Mark Gamble did not dispute that Cheng was a man of good character who had no history of offending and displayed deep remorse for his actions. 

But he said his sentence had to take into account the need to deter others from dangerous driving.

“The tragedy of this event ... is that it was avoidable,” he said. 

Judge Gamble said as a result of Cheng’s “selfish decision to speed” two people and two generations were taken. 

He said Cheng’s remorse was stronger and clearer than in other similar cases and noted he came from a loving and supportive family. 

He said his guilt and remorse was shown by acting as his own jailer when he asked a magistrate to revoke his bail, as well as his letter of apology. In a letter of reference tendered to the court Cheng’s sister apologised on behalf of his family to the victims, the court heard.

Judge Gamble said his sentence was the least severe that appropriate justice allowed.

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