Driver linked to Nilly’s death handed maximum penalty
THE driver linked to the tragic death of popular schoolgirl Nilly Mooney has been handed the maximum jail term able to be imposed in a magistrates court and will spend the next year behind bars.
Heartbroken mother Tania Rudall grasped a photo of her forever 15-year-old daughter, surrounded by about 25 family members and close friends, during the emotional outcome.
Outside court Ms Rudall said: "We're just glad … she's finally in custody where she should be."
While Nilly's aunt Jo-Anne Rudall said the family had experienced incredible "pain and despair" over the past seven months.
"A beautiful blossoming life was taken away," she said.
Mackay Magistrates Court heard Jessica May Goulding became hysterical and panicked when she saw "blood everywhere" after striking Nilly on Nicklin Dr about 3.15am on March 1 this year.
So she fled the scene.
Prosecutor Chelsea Pearson, in reading out the facts, said marks on the road indicated Nilly "was possibly lying down" when she was struck.
Goulding claimed she had not been drinking that night - she had gone through the round about off Celebre Dr and swerved to avoid hitting a white dog.
"When she did this she saw someone lying in the middle of the road, she stated by the time she saw them she had already hit them and didn't have time to react," Ms Pearson said.
Nilly had returned home from a party but after realising she had lost her phone, went back out to look for it.
The teen had been in the middle of the street looking for her phone when she was struck by the vehicle.
Ms Pearson said Goulding pulled over, saw someone lying in the middle of the road "and there was blood everywhere".
"(She) immediately started screaming and panicking," Ms Pearson said.
The court heard one of the passengers, who owned the Holden Commodore, told her to leave and it would be ok.
The court heard he and a second passenger stayed and called Triple-0.
Goulding holed up in Mount Ossa before handing herself in 12 hours later.
Acting Magistrate Ron Muirhead said he was satisfied "callous disregard has been shown", but he explained to the court the maximum penalty for the charge of failing to remain at the scene and render assistance was three years and that would have to be reduced because Goulding pleaded guilty.
Defence solicitor Corey Cullen said following the incident his client sought help from a psychiatrist and "on my instructions she has suffered from symptoms of PTSD".
When Mr Cullen said Goulding had spent her 30th birthday in custody, Nilly's family and friends erupted in anger with her mother shouting "Nilly spent her 16th at the cemetery".
The 30 year old pleaded guilty to more than 40 charges committed between January and August, which also included a string of drug offences.
Mr Cullen pushed for 18 months jail with release after one third.
The court heard for all the offending Goulding had been on supreme court probation for supplying dangerous drugs.
"(There's) not a shadow of a doubt you have a serious issue with drugs," Mr Muirhead said.
Ten loved ones including Nilly's mother, brother, aunts and cousins tendered victim impact statements.
Mr Muirhead particularly noted Goulding said she left the scene because she panicked but did not hand herself in for 12 hours.
"The fact is you should have remained there," Mr Muirhead said.
Goulding was jailed for two years for failing to remain at the scene, which is cumulative to a 12-month term for the drug offending.
She was also disqualified from driving for three years.
"It's my view, bearing in mind that this behaviour occurred over a fairly short space of time, while you were on probation from … the supreme court and in my view the two prison terms should be served cumulatively," Mr Muirhead said.
"The end result is a prison term of three years."
This is the maximum term a magistrate can impose in the lower court.
Goulding will be released on parole on August 13 next year after serving 12 months. She has already spent 50 days on remand while awaiting sentence.
At this stage, no dangerous or reckless driving related charges have been laid against Goulding.
"We're happy that justice has been started but it's nowhere near the end, we're going to continue to fight for this," Ebony Mooney said.
"Justice for Nilly."