Mother avoids prison after crash that killed sister and brother-in-law

A woman who smoked cannabis and then crashed her car, killing her sister and brother-in-law, has avoided jail after a judge found sending her to prison would be too detrimental to her daughter, who was also injured in the accident.

Amberly Hendy, 31, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on the Goulburn Valley Highway on September 6, 2019, after smoking cannabis with her sister, Eloise Rigby, 23, and Rigby’s husband, Adam Boland, 39, that morning.

Sending Amberly Hendy to jail would be inhumane to her daughter, the judge said.Credit:Facebook

Rigby and Boland were killed in the crash, while Hendy’s four-year-old daughter was seriously injured, needed to be resuscitated at the scene and spent more than three months in hospital.

Hendy, from Katunga, 45 kilometres north of Shepparton, appeared via videolink in the Melbourne County Court on Thursday and was sentenced to 400 unpaid hours of community work and a four-year community corrections order.

County Court Judge Liz Gaynor agreed with submissions made by prosecutors that the extreme reliance Hendy’s daughter has on her mother meant that sending her to prison would be inhumane, even though such charges usually mandated jail sentences.

“The prosecution accepts that if you were jailed, and unable to care for her, the effect on your daughter would be so calamitous that the legal threshold of exceptional hardship has been reached,” Judge Gaynor found.

“I agree it is one of those rare cases.

“As has been said by courts many times, there must always be a place in sentencing for the exercise of mercy … I am satisfied that your daughter’s situation means this is one of those cases.”

Judge Gaynor also found that the court could not be sure what role her cannabis usage played in the car accident.

“This occurred in the context of a short drive and a terrible hailstorm. And no one can quite say what part the drug ingestion has in fact, played … she hasn’t exceeded the speed limit [or] any of those sorts of things.”

Hendy spoke just once in the hearing, replying “yes” to Judge Gaynor when she accepted the terms of her sentence.

Experts had previously found that one of the car’s rear tyres was in poor condition and could have contributed to the loss of traction on the wet road.

Had she not pleaded guilty, Judge Gaynor said, Hendy would have been jailed.

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