Wednesday, 16th April, 2014
By Andrew Robertson
A young mother who went on a drug-fuelled joyride in a stolen front-end loader on the Wentworth road was sentenced to two years’ jail yesterday.
Jessica Kelly was a passenger in the Caterpillar 926 when the driver, Joshua Kerr, steered the machine at oncoming vehicles and police during a 40km pursuit on February 18.
The chase ended dramatically when a police officer used his service revolver to shoot out the tyres of the loader as it approached the outskirts of Broken Hill.
Kerr, 24, was earlier this month sentenced in the Local Court to four years’ jail for his role in the incident which sparked an internal police investigation into the actions of officers.
Yesterday, 22-year-old Kelly was sentenced for her part in what her lawyer Joe Hull described as “a drug-fuelled event that went from bad to worse”.
Magistrate Clare Farnan said Kelly fell into the most serious category of the two offences she was charged with because, while she was simply a passenger, she “did nothing to try and stop” Kerr.
This was despite her being involved in an earlier accident when Kerr drove a Hyundai sedan the pair had stolen from Red Cliffs into the trailer of an oncoming B-double truck.
The two fled from the accident and spent several hours in scrub before coming across the front-end loader on a property.
Mr Hull, who works for the Aboriginal Legal Service, agreed Ms Kelly was a willing participant in the thefts but was heavily influence by methamphetamine and in a “state of paranoia”.
He said the actions of police in shooting at the windscreen of the loader resulted in a belief that she needed to flee in order to “avoid retribution from police”.
Kelly, who has a four-year-old child, had since had an insight into what she had done and “does intend to get her life back on track”, Mr Hull told the court.
“She could see fear in the police officers’ eyes.”
He asked Ms Farnan to consider placing her on a supervised good behaviour bond rather than imposing a custodial sentence.
But the magistrate said the crime was “extremely serious” and, despite numerous opportunities, Kelly had refused to change her “life of drug abuse and crime”.
She noted Kelly’s upbringing had made it difficult for her “to develop a law-abiding lifestyle”.
“The reality of this matter is that the general community was put at considerable risk and her actions could not be considered minor.”
Ms Farnan sentenced Kelly to 24 months’ jail with a non-parole period of 12 months.
With time already served, she will be eligible for parole on February 17 next year.