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Public slams driver's sentence

Robyn Prior (Matthew Prior's mother) outside Ipswich Courthouse after Michael Henderson was sentenced for the deaths of Brittany Bramwell, Matthew Prior and Nicholas Saxby.
Robyn Prior (Matthew Prior's mother) outside Ipswich Courthouse after Michael Henderson was sentenced for the deaths of Brittany Bramwell, Matthew Prior and Nicholas Saxby. Jojo Newby

QUEENSLAND Times readers have overwhelmingly condemned the sentence handed down to the driver who killed three Ipswich teenagers in a horrific car crash at Goodna.

More than 350 people voted in our online poll yesterday, 97% of whom were opposed to the lenient punishment imposed on Michael Daniel Henderson.

Henderson, 34, was banned from driving and had been drinking when he drove at high speed through two red lights and smashed into a car carrying four Ipswich youngsters on April 8 last year.

But despite killing three teens and fleeing from the scene, Henderson could be freed in February 2015.

He was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, but will be eligible for parole after a mere 30 months behind bars.

As anger over the case mounted yesterday, Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he would approach Director of Public Prosecutions for advice on whether he should launch an appeal.

The Queensland Times has learnt several distraught family members contacted the office of Premier Campbell Newman to ask for action after the sentence was handed down by Judge Sarah Bradley at Ipswich District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Goodna Councillor Paul Tully also indicated his intentions to write to the Attorney-General.

One of the first to contact the Attorney-General's office on Wednesday was Peter Flack, grandfather of 16-year-old victim Nicholas Saxby.

Mr Flack said he was angered to hear that Henderson had previous driving offences which meant he should not have been on the road that night.

"I don't want revenge - because that won't bring Nick back - but I am disappointed in the justice system," Mr Flack said.

"These people have got to be made to pay and we have got to get onto the right people and let them know that this isn't right."

Henderson admitted causing the deaths by dangerous driving of Nicholas Saxby as well as Matthew Prior, 18, and Brittany Bramwell, 17.

He also admitted causing grievous bodily harm to a fourth teenager, driver Alex Mayfield, who suffered serious internal injuries.

In court, the prosecution argued for a sentence of between eight and nine years, although the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years.

While there was no guarantee that the case will be taken any further, the mother of one of the victims, Robyn Prior, said the Attorney-General's announcement was an encouraging sign for her and husband Frank.

"It is fantastic news," Mrs Prior said.

"This gives us some hope.

"We will do whatever we can to help this process along."

Raquel Flack said she believed Henderson had effectively benefitted from callously leaving the scene of the crash that killed her son, Nicholas Saxby.

Henderson, who admitted he had drunk four beers that evening, thereby avoided having to undergo a blood-alcohol test that could have resulted in him receiving a heavier sentence.

"He left the scene of that crash for no other reason than to save himself," Ms Flack said.

"When the police caught up with him he wouldn't admit that he was the person involved and he ran off again - they had to chase him on foot.

"He was out there to save himself that night."

State Member for Ipswich Ian Berry and Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller both said they would ask that Mr Bleijie carefully consider any advice provided by the DPP on the merits of an appeal.

Topics:  appeal ipswich district court jail jarrod bleijie michael daniel henderson


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