License article

The deadly mix: teenagers home alone, booze, a fast car, then the bitter regrets

GEORGINA Thring wished she had seven lives. In a letter to a friend when she was 15, she wrote that she knew she would never have enough time for all she yearned to achieve.

''I wish I had seven lives because there is so much I want to do when I'm older,'' wrote the girl whose life was characterised by convictions, not fads, and a love of all living creatures.

She wanted to become a vet, have a family, travel the world, work with the World Wildlife Fund and live on a farm.

''Life is short and I may only get one chance to do something so I need to stop being scared and go for it,'' she wrote. Yet as the County Court was told on Wednesday, she lived just another three years after penning that letter.

She died on Australia Day this year as a passenger in a speeding car driven by a drunken, unlicensed teenager.

The driver, then 17, who cannot be named, was celebrating the end of year 12 at a barbecue that day in Brighton East, with Georgina and about 30 others.


He and many others at the house were drunk after drinking for about 10 hours without adult supervision.

The defendant took the car keys from another boy, telling him he was too drunk to drive. He, his friend and Georgina got into the other boy's car, and soon after, witnesses saw the vehicle travelling at a ''frightening'' speed, zigzagging, swerving and fishtailing before it disappeared into trees in a cloud of dust.

The learner driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.153 per cent, more than three times the legal limit for a fully licensed driver, when he crashed at a speed estimated at 132km/h in a 70km/h zone on South Road, Brighton East.

Judge Carolyn Douglas sentenced the defendant, now 18, who had pleaded guilty to culpable driving, to 4½ years in jail, with a minimum of two years.

In her sentencing, Judge Douglas projected a photo of a table at the unsupervised party, which was covered with bottles of alcohol, and another of the destroyed car at the scene.

Judge Douglas said she hoped they would ''bring home to young people what happens in these circumstances''.

She said the contents of 50 victim impact statements prepared for the hearing - including those of Georgina's parents, who read theirs out - ''reflect the fragility of life in that within a very short time, a young person was killed senselessly''.

She also took into account the remorse of the driver, who had admitted responsibility at the scene, saying he suffered continual distress, traumatic anxiety, loss of friends and anguished fear that Georgina's parents might think he did not care about their loss.

Judge Douglas will recommend that the Adult Parole Board transfer him to a youth justice centre to serve all his minimum term after hearing he would be extremely vulnerable within the adult prison system.

Detective Sergeant Chris Carnie, of the major collision investigation unit, said Georgina's parents were ''absolutely shattered''.

''You hope at the end of these cases that the community take note of what's occurred and just change their risk behaviours out on the road because they do have tragic consequences. It destroys lives forever.

''The amount of lives we lose on the road is just a total waste.''