A Queensland judge has warned people not to drive the morning after a big night out after a cyclist was killed by a drink-driver near Cairns last year.
A P-plate drink-driver will spend a year in jail after he struck and killed a Queensland cyclist the morning after a night out partying with friends.
Lewis David Morgan, 20, blew 0.076 after his car veered onto the side of a highway north of Cairns in May last year, killing 37-year-old Tanya Roneberg.
The man pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and was sentenced to three and half years’ jail, suspended after 12 months, when he appeared in the Cairns District Court on Thursday.
Ms Roneberg’s mother Sharon, who was supported by her husband and son, told the court she has cried every day for the past year.
“Tanya was given a death sentence and we’ve been given a life sentence,” she said while staring at Morgan and holding back tears.
“I love you, Tanya, more than life itself.”
Sharon Roneberg described her daughter as fit, clever, beautiful, bossy and fiercely loyal.
The court heard Morgan had drunk up to 15 rum and colas while partying with friends on May 10 before he fell asleep for up to five-and-a-half hours.
The following morning, while driving from Cairns to Holloways Beach on the Captain Cook Highway, his car veered off the road, striking Ms Roneberg who was changing her bike tyre on the side of the road.
Judge Brian Harrison said all Australians should view the death as a warning to think before driving the morning after a big night out.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Harrison said he took into account that Morgan had no criminal history, was of otherwise good character, had entered an early guilty plea, had shown remorse and had co-operated with authorities.
“It really came down to your decision to drive,” he said.
“You shouldn’t have been driving in the first place from what had transpired from the night before.”
Outside court, Ms Roneberg’s family said they were relieved the court process was over but were disappointed the sentence hadn’t been longer.
“There will never be closure,” her father Geoff said.
Her mother added: “Our girl’s gone and she’s never coming back.”
Ms Roneberg’s death was high-profile in Cairns and was the catalyst for a cyclist awareness campaign.
Morgan also lost his licence for four years.