Mum killed in horror crash by driver banned for 15 years
A SERIAL dangerous driver had his licence back for 15 months after a 15-year ban and was on a cocktail of drugs when he flipped his car on the southern M1, killing the mum in the passenger seat.
He will be eligible for parole in just over two years.
Suzana Lazarevic was thrown from the speeding Holden Commodore after it crashed into the barrier on the Pacific Motorway at Tugun about 2am on April 19, 2019.
The Newcastle mum was found lying on the highway 13m from the car. The 28-year-old would die later in hospital.
Ricky Stephen Gardner pleaded guilty in the Southport District Court on Tuesday to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
The court was told he was driving at least 28km/h over the speed limit immediately before the crash and was earlier seen speeding in Lismore - about 100km away.
Judge Katherine McGinness sentenced Gardner to seven years prison with parole eligibility on June 22, 2023.
She also banned Gardner from driving for life.
"I take into account the fact you were intoxicated by drugs and well knew you should not have been on the road," she said.
"You should not have been on the road with drugs.
"Not only did you do that but you were speeding and swerving as well," she said.
Crown prosecutor Gary Churchill said Gardner's driving had first been noticed by other motorists who spotted him tailgating and swerving in and out of lanes at the Pacific Motorway's Lismore exit.
He said minutes before the fatal crash Gardner's car was captured on CCTV going through the Tugun tunnel at between 128 and 151km/h. The speed limit there is 100km/h.
Police were unable to estimate the speed Gardner was travelling at the time of the crash.
Gardner swerved into the barrier between the north and south-bound lanes on the M1 causing the car to roll.
"He told witnesses that (Ms Lazarevic) was not wearing a seatbelt and asked (the witness) to tell police that the deceased was driving as he had warrants out for his arrest," Mr Churchill said.
The court was told blood tests on Gardner revealed he was under the influence of a "cocktail of drugs".
Ms Lazarevic died in hospital that morning of significant head trauma.
Mr Churchill told the court Ms Lazarevic's father was too distraught to provide a victim impact statement. He had asked a solicitor to provide a statement but it was not sent to the prosecution.
He said after a string of driving offences Gardner had been banned from driving for 15 years. Gardner got his licence back just 15 months before the crash.
The court was told Gardner had taken significant steps towards drug rehabilitation and was remorseful for his actions.
He said he never wanted to drive again.
Originally published as Mum killed in horror crash by driver banned for 15 years