The devastated father of one of two girls who died when her mother left them inside a hot car says she should have been charged with murder and jailed for 30 years, instead of the nine-year manslaughter sentence she received.
Kerri-Ann Conley, 30, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her daughters Darcey-Helen, 2 1/2, and Chloe-Ann, 18 months, last week.
Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth sentenced Conley to nine years behind bars, saying he had shown “gross criminal negligence” when he left the young children in the car for nine hours, when temperatures exceeded 60C inside. vehicle.
Conley had initially been charged with murder, but that was demoted, with Darcey-Helen’s father, Peter Jackson, being told that murder was “too difficult to prove”.
Had Conley been convicted of the double murder, under Queensland law, she would have served a mandatory 30-year non-parole period.
Jackson said he couldn’t conceive of why Conley had been able to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
Kerri-Ann Conley was sentenced to nine years in jail for the manslaughter of her daughters
Kerri-Ann Conley’s daughters, Darcy-Helen Conley (left) and Chloe-Ann, were found dead in Conley’s car, parked outside her Waterford West home in November 2019. Image: Supplied/Channel 9
I still think it should be murder. I should have gotten the 30 years,” Jackson told the abc.
I do not think it’s fair. They were defenseless children.
Conley will be eligible for parole in November next year, after serving three years in custody.
Initially, she was charged with murder under legislation introduced just weeks before the incident that broadens the definition of murder to include reckless disregard for human life.
But she was allowed to plead guilty to the reduced charges and possession of dangerous drugs and utensils when she was arraigned last Tuesday.
The charges were downgraded to manslaughter before the case could go to a jury, with the DPP conceding that Mr Jackson’s murder would be “too difficult to prove”.
Peter Jackson, the father of two-and-a-half-year-old Darcy-Helen, was seen arriving at the Brisbane High Court last week.
The court heard a series of cases of neglect shown by Conley and that he had made a “deliberate decision” to leave the two girls in the car after returning to their home in the south Brisbane suburb of Waterford West, after at 4 a.m. on November 23. , 2019.
“I think the charges should have been upheld,” Jackson told ABC.
Jackson wore sunglasses when he arrived at Conley’s sentencing hearing last week and sat in the back of the courthouse with other family members.
The court was told that Conley deliberately left the two girls in her car. Instead of removing her daughters from their seats, she went inside, fiddled with her phone for a few hours, and fell asleep.
Darcy-Helen and Chloe-Ann stayed in the vehicle in direct sunlight for hours as temperatures rose to 61.5 degrees.
The girls’ skin was hot to the touch, covered in burns and blisters and was ‘sloughing off’ as paramedics tried to revive them, the court was told.
The court was told that Conley revealed that she smoked the drug’s ice daily to an undercover police officer while in custody.
Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis said Conley left the children secured inside the car with the doors locked and the vehicle parked without shade, after returning home.
But he insisted that his sons “always came first” and that his drug use did not affect his relationship with the girls.
“This is an astonishing statement that only a drug addict could make,” Judge Applegarth said.
He said the thought of the distraught children being awake and strapped down in the hot car as they died was “too much to bear.”
“Her grossly negligent conduct was deciding to leave her vulnerable children unattended, unheard and unobserved in the dark,” it said.
The court was told that there had been previous incidents where the Conley children had been left in a hot car.
Judge Applegarth said Conley’s excuse for previous occasions when the children were left in the car was that they were “difficult” to accommodate after waking them up.
The children’s skin was blistered and hot to the touch, sloughing off when paramedics tried to treat them, Ms Dennis said.
Autopsies confirmed that the girls died of hyperthermia, but the time of death could not be correctly established (Peter Jackson, father of the deceased girl Darcey-Helen in the photo)
He said this raised the question of why he was coming home in the early hours of the morning with two small babies.
“You should have realized the inherent risks of leaving (children) in the car while you went in and slept,” Applegarth said.
After leading the girls into the car, Conley was caught on his home’s surveillance cameras dumping a plastic bag that police believed contained drug residue.
Police found a small amount of marijuana and a glass pipe during a search of his home.
The court was told that Conley was genuinely sorry for her conduct and that she had experienced neglect as a child.
His drug use was described as a coping mechanism, but Judge Applegarth tore it apart as well.
“It just helps explain his criminal conduct, it’s not a mitigating factor,” he said.
‘No child should have a parent who uses methamphetamine.’
Peter Jackson, the father of one of the deceased children, was wearing sunglasses as he arrived at court in Brisbane, where Kerri-Ann Conley was sentenced for the manslaughter of her young daughter.
The girls stayed in the van when she got in and fell asleep, police alleged.
Judge Applegarth emphasized that Conley’s case involved criminal negligence and accepted that she did not really wish to harm either of her daughters.
Autopsies confirmed that the girls died of hyperthermia when the body is heated to more than 40°C (not to be confused with hypothermia, which is from excessive cold), but the time of death could not be correctly established.