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Perth mum Janet Kirby jailed over drunken crash that killed her daughter


‘Drinking game’ before fatal crash

Janet Kirby had a fatal car crash after playing a drinking game.

A mother who was drunkenly skylarking with a carload of teenagers before she crashed and her teenage daughter was thrown to her death from the boot has been sentenced to a four-and-a-half year jail term.

Janet Louise Kirby cried in the dock of the District Court this morning as Judge Linda Petrusa said her offending was egregious and the sentence had to send a message to the community that driving was a privilege and cars were a lethal weapon.

Supporters of the 48-year-old grandmother, who had been playing a drinking game with her 15-year-old daughter Lois before she got behind the wheel of the car and lost control on Marmion Avenue on March 14 last year, sobbed uncontrollably when the jail term was handed down.

“This event is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy which could have been avoided,” Judge Petrusa said.

“It is a serious example of dangerous driving.”

Kirby had a blood alcohol level of 0.110 – more than twice the legal limit – when she crashed as she was driving six passengers aged 15 to 20 to a party in Ridgewood.

Egged on by the teenagers, two of whom were travelling in the rear luggage compartment of the Jeep Cherokee without seats or belts, Kirby started tailgating a moped and swerving from one side of the road to the other in an attempt to scare the rider and his pillion passenger.

She then attempted to overtake the moped and lost control of the jeep, which crossed two lanes and landed on its roof.
Louis died from multiple injuries after she was thrown from the car and three other passengers were injured.

Judge Petrusa said she accepted that Kirby had no previous criminal record, posed a low risk of re-offending and was genuinely remorseful.

“There can be no greater deterrent sentence than the one you have imposed on yourself,” she said.

But Judge Petrusa said Lois’s death was also a loss to her father and siblings and the sentence had to send a message that driving was a privilege.

“Your inaccurate belief as to your level of intoxication and your desire to keep Lois smiling may explain your decision to drive, but it does not excuse it,” she said.

“The deliberate skylarking was so hazardous that your earlier failures seem almost minor in comparison.”

Kirby will be eligible to apply for parole after serving two-and-a-half years in jail and was also disqualified from driving for three years.


Perth mum Janet Kirby jailed over drunken Merriwa crash that killed teenage daughter

Updated about 5 hours ago

A Perth drunk driver who crashed her car after trying to scare a moped rider, killing her teenage daughter who was in the boot, and injuring three others, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

Janet Kirby, 48, was twice the legal alcohol limit when she lost control of her car in the northern suburb of Merriwa in March last year.

She had been playing drinking games with her daughter Lois, 15, before driving the teenager and four friends to a party in Perth’s northern suburbs.

However Kirby lost control of the vehicle after swerving across the road to try to scare the moped rider and his pillion passenger.

Lois, who with one other passenger was travelling unrestrained in the luggage compartment, was thrown from the vehicle on Marmion Avenue and died.

Police who attended the scene smelled alcohol on Kirby’s breath, and she later recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.11.

District Court Judge Linda Petrusa called the crash a “tragedy” but said it was “a tragedy that could have been avoided”.

“You failed in your responsibility at the first hurdle and compounded it by deliberately skylarking,” Judge Petrusa told Kirby.

She described Kirby’s actions as “deliberate” and a “grave breach of the standards” expected by drivers on the roads.

“As wretched as the death of Lois is … it cannot be forgotten your actions caused injuries to three others,” Judge Petrusa said.

“And you placed at risk the lives of … two others in the car and the two young people on the moped.”

Judge Petrusa said while she accepted Kirby was genuinely remorseful and suffering significant emotional pain, a message had to be sent to the community that driving was a “privilege” and motorists needed to take into account the safety of others.

Kirby will have to serve a minimum of two-and-a-half years behind bars before she can be released on parole.

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