A JUDGE says he intends to sentence North Bendigo woman Taylah Hocking, 20, to three years in a youth detention facility for the hit-and-run death of Tracey-Lee Kemp in Huntly last year.
Judge Bill Stuart announced his sentencing intention in the Bendigo County Court on Friday, but must wait for the result of a pre-sentence report before formalising his decision.
Three years is the maximum sentence allowed in a youth detention facility in Victoria.
Hocking pleaded guilty this week to dangerous driving causing death, failing to stop after an accident and failing to render assistance after an accident for the hit-and-run on the Midland Highway at 12.43am on August 14.
The court heard Hocking was travelling about 52 km/h when she struck Ms Kemp and continued to drive, staging a fake crash on Howard Street in Epsom in an attempted cover-up.
Hocking, who was on her P-plates, had drunk alcohol at a 21st birthday party at the Huntly Pub earlier in the evening.
Judge Stuart also said he believed Hocking was looking at her phone while driving, but there was no evidence that she sent any texts.
Judge Stuart said distraction was a key element to Hocking’s offending, and her failure to stop – and then continued denials to police – were further aggravating features.
“Anyone driving at night would have had a clear view of a person walking on the shoulder of the highway,” he said.
“The only possible explanation for this collision is that you chose to read those texts while you were driving.
“You chose to be distracted. You chose to drive whilst having consumed alcohol during the course of the night.
“You chose not to tell anybody. You chose to make a fake accident in order to cover your tracks.”
A number of statements were tendered to court outlining Hocking’s remorse for killing Ms Kemp, who was a friend of her mother and who she described as a “second mother” and “like an aunt”.
They also spoke of Hocking’s hard-working nature and good character.
The court heard her depression and young age would make her vulnerable in adult custody.
Judge Stuart said it was a tragic case, and should serve as a warning to other young drivers.
“Young inexperienced drivers put in charge of cars have a responsibility to all others users of the road to ensure they are attentive in their driving, not distracted and not affected in any way by alcohol or drugs,” he said.
Judge Stuart will formally sentence Hocking on August 22, after obtaining a pre-sentence report.
He said he intends to send her to a youth detention facility for three years.