We still have a life sentence

September 13, 2017

Georgia Edsall-French, 15, died instantly when the car in which she was a passenger was hit by a ute in July 2015.

A HEATHCOTE family is still serving a life sentence despite the jailing of the man who killed their teenage daughter and sister in a horrific crash two years ago.

Andrew Connolly, 24, was sentenced in Bowen District Court on September 4 to three-and-a-half years’ prison, suspended after serving 14 months over the death of Georgia Edsall-French.

The North Queensland man pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and grievous bodily harm, which related to the horrific injuries suffered by Georgia’s sister Matilda.

Georgia, 15, was killed when the car she was travelling in with her mother, Kym Edsall, and two of her little sisters, Lily and Matilda, collided head-on with a ute on the Bruce Highway, 10km south of Bowen on Queensland’s mid-north coast, on July 24, 2015.

The family had taken a road trip up north and was returning from the supermarket when the crash occurred.

Georgia was killed instantly from the impact.

Matilda, then 8, suffered multiple fractures in her legs, which required 18 operations to treat, Ms Edsall sustained injuries to her braking foot, while Lily escaped relatively unscathed.

Georgia’s dad, Terry French, and her other two older sisters, Tayla and Grace, were in Victoria when they received the distressing news.

Putting up a united front, the Heathcote family attended court in Bowen for the sentence, which Kym said would never be enough to ease their pain.

‘‘Regardless of the outcome, there are no winners. We still have a life sentence,’’ she said.

‘‘It was a relief to finally face this guy. But he did not seem remorseful and didn’t say anything in court.

‘‘Because he pleaded guilty, evidence wasn’t produced but we did hear that he had only had nine hours’ sleep in the week leading up to the crash, so it was likely he had fallen asleep.

‘‘I can’t say I would have wanted more (time) as jail doesn’t fix anything.’’

Ms Edsall said going from a family of seven to six had been devastating.

And if anything was going to be achieved through this, it was to bring about road safety awareness.

‘‘A split second of inattention can change your life,’’ she said.

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