The mothers of a young pedestrian killed by a runaway car have spoken in court to beg their daughter’s killers to accept their verdicts.
19-year-old Libby Ruge was walking on a Wollongong footpath when she was struck by the vehicle in November 2020 after its passenger applied the handbrake while driving.
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It was an emotional day for her mothers Julie Ruge and Jules Harrison, who read their victim impact statements to the killers of their daughter.
“It was weird this morning because we all felt worse this time and I think that’s partly because it’s closing a chapter. Not that it’s ever going to be over for us,” Ruge said.
“I think that part of it, the horrible part of it, is hopefully over for now and we can move on.”
Jaskaran Singh, 20, the driver of the car, was found guilty of three counts of dangerous driving resulting in death and serious bodily harm and leaving the scene without providing assistance and sentenced to six years, four years without parole, backdated to May. 2022.
Arpan Sharma, a 22-year-old passenger who pulled the handbrake, pleaded guilty to three dangerous driving charges and was sentenced to five years, three years and four months without parole as of May 2022. Because of his guilty plea, he received a 5 percent reduction in his sentence.
Sharma told police he fired four to five shots at a party attended by both men that night. Singh was the “designated driver”.
District Court Judge Julia Baly said Sharma was “a driver” despite being in the front passenger seat and “he was the person most responsible for involvement in the dangerous manoeuvres”.
That’s because Sharma pulled the handbrake “on all three occasions” and Singh was in the driver’s seat, accelerating. They had equal control, or lack thereof, according to the judge.
Ruge called Singh’s recent handwritten letter of remorse and Sharma’s apology for his actions “a last-ditch effort”.
“That didn’t bother us”
Baly did not grant a pardon for this remorse.
The couple fatally hit Libby while out walking with her boyfriend, who escaped injury, and two friends who suffered fractures, when the Toyota Camry hit the curb along the Princess Highway at around 10.30pm on Saturday November 7, 2020 mounted.
Ruge and Harrison hope Singh and Sharma will accept their sentences rather than appeal them to prove their remorse.
“Hopefully they accept their verdict and don’t try to appeal, I think it was very fair. I am very grateful to Judge Baly, I think she is strong but very fair,” Ruge said.
“As I said in my sacrifice’s impact statement, if they had shown some remorse in the beginning by accepting what they had done and taking responsibility, there might have been forgiveness. But to pull through there for 18 months.
“It was the only opportunity I had to speak to them and tell them the impact they had. I was very nervous but I think I got my message across.”
Despite her loss, Harrison said she has no hatred for Singh and Sharma.
“I didn’t want them to feel ‘poor me, they hate me.’ I don’t want them to be victims. I hate the situation and I hate that it happened, but I don’t hate it,” Harrison said.
“All this time we’ve been trying to stay strong and honest with Libby and we’ve just tried not to be angry but be respectful of the process and what everyone has done for us to support us,” he said Ruge.
“A car is a deadly weapon and it’s a privilege to be able to drive one,” she said, adding that “five and six years” is a “quite a hefty sentence” that she hopes “everyone else there will be a lesson”.
– With Hayley Taylor
https://7news.com.au/news/court-justice/libbys-mums-deliver-emotional-message-to-hoons-jailed-for-their-daughters-death-c-8230707 Accidental death in Wollongong: Libby’s mothers deliver an emotional message to hoons jailed over the death of their daughter