Meghan Hopper again avoids jail for killing pedestrian

TALKING to a youth group about the day she killed a pedestrian while using maps on her phone has helped keep a woman out of jail.

Meghan Catherine Elizabeth Hopper also attempted to speak at programs offering support services for people affected by road trauma.

She got a "glowing reference" from the general manager of Maleny Dairies, where she works, and her psychologist reported good progress.

Despite the state's highest court finding her wholly suspended two-and-a-half -year jail sentence "impermissibly lenient", she will not have to serve five months behind bars because of such rehabilitation efforts.

Hopper killed Taiwanese fruit picker Chen-Chuan Yang and caused grievous bodily harm to Kwan-Jung Wu as she drove along a road near the Elimbah train station in July, 2012.

Five months later she was again caught looking at maps while driving in Brisbane.

Though three Court of Appeal justices agreed the wholly suspended jail sentence was manifestly inadequate, two exercised their discretion not to interfere, based on Hopper's rehabilitation since sentencing.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who lodged the appeal, said yesterday that he must respect the appeal court's decision.

Justice Hugh Fraser said new evidence about Hopper's progress showed she had benefited from not having a custodial sentence.

Correcting the sentence with time in custody could not justify the resulting interruption to rehabilitation.

Justice Philip Morrison would have granted the appeal and ordered Hopper to serve five months in jail.

"The need for general deterrence looms large in my opinion, given the very serious nature of the offending conduct," he said.

"The offence came about because of quite deliberate conduct. Further to that is her conduct five months later when she was breached for a similar offence.

"In my opinion those features elevate the prominence of the need for the sentence to better reflect the element of general deterrence."

The original sentence cannot be used as a comparable decision in future cases.

Topics:  appeal jail suspended sentence

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