NT woman pleads guilty to causing the death of her 7-year-old son Mehali Pastrikos

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A woman who admitted drinking and smoking cannabis prior to a high-speed crash that killed her seven-year-old son and close friend in May last year has pleaded guilty to causing their deaths.

Andrea Groening, 25, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to dangerous driving causing the deaths of Mehali Anastasios Pastrikos and 21-year-old Wade Williams and serious harm to a man in another vehicle.

The court heard Groening had only had her Ps for about six weeks when she ran a red light at the intersection of Berrimah Rd and Tiger Brennan Dr at more than 40km/h over the limit on May 22.

Andrea Groening pleaded guilty to three charges relating to the fatal crash. Photo: ABC News/ Felicity James.

Her barrister, Nicola McCarron, told the court she did not remember anything immediately leading up to the crash, including where the trio had been or what they were doing.

Ms McCarron said Groening had dropped her two young daughters with a babysitter and was at home where Mr Williams was cooking Mehali’s favourite meal before the pair had some drinks.

She said Groening did not remember smoking cannabis but accepted she did because of her positive reading and the fact she had “fallen into a bad routine” of smoking it after putting the children to bed to relax following the recent death of her partner in an earlier crash on the Roper Hwy.

“Her very next memory is lying on the road and looking at the stars, after that she recalls waking up in hospital where she heard the devastating news,” she said.

“When she heard that news she just wanted to die.”

Two people were killed and Tiger Brennan Drive was closed for hours after the crash. Photo: ABC Darwin / Mitchell Abram.

In arguing for Justice Dean Mildren to consider imposing a home detention order, Ms McCarron said her client had “no explanation or memory as to why the three of them were in the car that night,” which she said was an “unusual occurrence.”

“She would never normally have taken Mehali anywhere on a school night, especially at that hour of the night,” she said.

Crown Prosecutor, Stephen Geary, said victim impact statements tendered to the court revealed Mehali was greatly missed by his extended family and Mr Williams was a father of three boys himself, who were now without a dad.

“One can’t help but be moved when reading the circumstances of how people came to know about the events that bring us to court today and the ongoing trauma and sense of loss in losing a much loved child,” he said.

Mr Geary said while Groening’s own loss of her young son was “punishment in itself,” the offending was so serious she “must go to jail”.

“For many years to come for the rest of her life this offender will have to live with what she’s done to her own child and two other men,” he said.

“(But) there’s just absolutely no excuse for driving in this way on that particular night.

“It would be manifestly inadequate if there was a fully suspended sentence regarding this matter, it’s just too serious.”

Groening returns to court for sentencing on October 14 where Justice Mildren indicated he would be likely to impose a term of actual imprisonment followed by a possible period of home detention.

Source: NT Times.

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