Widower to killer driver: ‘You should be the one dead’
A drunk driver who killed a beloved mother-of-three described as "the life and soul" of her family in a horror crash in Redland Bay has been sentenced to eight years' jail.
Andrew John Middleton, 43, had a blood alcohol concentration more than four times the legal limit when he crashed into the car of 36-year-old Mersina Axiom who was driving home from work about 11pm on February 7, 2020.
The former Army officer pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Monday to dangerous driving causing death while adversely affected by alcohol and excessively speeding.
Five family members read powerful victim impact statements to the court, including husband Anthony Axiom who said to Middleton: "If anyone should have died that night it should have been you."
Airbag data showed Middleton was driving at 133km/hour along Serpentine Creek Road - which has a speed limit of 90km/hour - with the break pedal off, five seconds before his Subaru crashed into the back of a Ford utility.
After crashing into the ute, Middleton's Subaru became airborne and hit the front Mrs Axiom's white Kia Carnival.
The mum-of-three, whose children are now aged between four and 15, sustained critical head injuries and died the scene.
Chief Judge Brian Devereaux said one witness told police 'the car's revs sounded like they were at the limit, it looked like it was a police officer doing a high-speed pursuit'.
Two hours after the crash, Middleton had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.202 per cent.
Crown Prosecutor Sandra Cupina said when Middleton was 15 years old, his own sister was killed in a car accident by a person driving on the wrong side of the road.
"That failed to deter him, so in this sentence the crown will submit personal deterrents is a feature that has to be considered" she said.
Mr Axiom told the court his wife was an "absolutely brilliant, driven and entrepreneurial" person who was beloved by her family and wider community.
She had just been promoted as an executive manager with Tupparware one month before she was killed.
"Mersina was the life and soul of our family, she was the spark, the energy, everything that was good and exciting," Mr Axiom said.
"She loved her kids more than anything, she told them she loved them everyday.
"It shouldn't have been her, she was far too good for something like this to happen."
The widower spoke of the unimaginable pain of planning a funeral for his wife while their youngest daughter turned three years old, just eight days after the crash.
Mrs Axiom's mother said she was "serving a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit."
"I never got to hug her one last time, my beautiful girl was alone and my arms were empty and my heart is pulverised," she said.
Defence barrister James Godbelt said Middleton suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his time spent in the military and had no recollection of the crash.
He presented evidence that Middleton contemplated suicide in the weeks following the crash.
"There is both real and genuine remorse on my client's part, there is psychiatric illness involving among other things PTSD, which in my submission does impact on the moral culpability," Mr Godbelt said.
"He has taken significant steps to rehabilitation … he doesn't drink at all.
"He is a low risk of reoffending should he remain abstinent."
Chief Judge Devereaux described Middleton's decision to drive that night as "a self-indulgent act with terrible outcomes" and took into account the medical evidence about his PTSD.
Middleton was sentenced to eight years' jail and was disqualified from driving for life.
He will be eligible parole on March 28, 2024.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the Axiom family.
Originally published as Widower to killer driver: 'You should be the one dead'