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Lauren Ralph was one day away from turning 12th birthday when a speeding driver ran a red light and killed his little sister.

Abigail, Lauren and their mother, age nine, were in the car when Jarrod Damien Payne crashed into them at 120 km / h.

“It was almost 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday,” Lauren said of the 2003 accident at O’Halloran Hill in Adelaide.
Lauren Ralph (right), pictured with her little sister Abigail.
Lauren Ralph (right), pictured with her little sister Abigail. (Supplied: Lauren Ralph)

“My mother and I had minor injuries, but Abby’s were internal. A nurse revived her at the crash site,” Lauren said.

“It was horrible … going to the hospital and thinking that he is waking up to then be told no, we have to turn off the life support machine.”

Payne pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and would later serve 18 months of a three-year sentence in jail.

The lives of Lauren and her parents were irrevocably changed.

“Because it happened when I was so young, it’s been a part of my life. I had to see my parents go through what they went through,” Lauren said.

“I was a bit naughty when I was a child, I was worried.

“It was like nothing was fair and why wasn’t she here.”

Lauren Ralph is campaigning for a mandatory 10-year sentence to be introduced for drivers who cause fatal accidents aggravated by speeding, intoxication or recklessness.
Lauren Ralph is campaigning for a mandatory 10-year sentence to be introduced for drivers who cause fatal accidents aggravated by speeding, intoxication or recklessness. (Supplied: Lauren Ralph)

Lauren, now 30, said that over the years she had seen many families like her own being defrauded by the court system in South Australia, where some drivers received inconsistent and lenient sentences for the fatal accidents they had caused. .

“I don’t think anyone realizes how little punishment they receive. If a king hits another person, he faces a much longer jail term than someone who drives a car,” he said.

“When someone loses a life, that life is almost thrown away and it comes down to the perpetrator. I think it’s about time something changed.”

Lauren said that upon learning of the death of Sophia Naismith, a 15-year-old girl from Adelaide, who was killed by a Lamborghini driver who allegedly climbed a trail he was walking on in June 2019, reawakened memories of his sister’s accident.
Sophia Naismith, 15, was killed when she was hit by a Lamborghini. (Supplied)

“My heart skipped a beat when I found out. My siblings are in school now and they went to school with Sophia,” he said.

The driver of the Lamborghini is still facing an ongoing test. Campbell has indicated that he will plead not guilty to his charges, including death from dangerous driving.

Meanwhile, Lauren and other accident victims have come together to petition the state government for changes to help other families.

Abigail (right) was killed in 2003 when Jarrod Damien Payne ran a red light.
Abigail (right) was killed in 2003 when Jarrod Damien Payne ran a red light. (Supplied: Lauren Ralph)

The group calls for a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence to be introduced for drivers who cause fatal accidents aggravated by speeding, intoxication or recklessness.

They also call for stricter bail conditions, longer license disqualifications, and a ban on plea deals that can sometimes lead dangerous drivers to avoid jail altogether.

Parents Lee and Lynette Lyall, who lost their two children, Troy and Shanae Lyall, in a fatal accident in 2011, are part of the campaign.

In his case, driver Adrian O’Daniel, who was inattentive that led to the accident, escaped from jail and received a seven-month suspended sentence for aggravated driving without proper care.

Payne spent 18 months in jail and had his driver's license suspended for 10 years after the accident.
Payne spent 18 months in jail and had his driver’s license suspended for 10 years after the accident. (Supplied: Lauren Ralph)
An online petition The request by South Australian Attorney General Vickie Chapman to introduce mandatory sentences has so far attracted more than 5,000 signatures.

However, Ms. Chapman said she did not support the idea.

“While minimum sentences can act as an impediment to criminal behavior, the legal system must be carefully designed to strike the right balance between the severity of the sentence and justice,” Ms. Chapman said in a statement.

“Not all circumstances surrounding death from dangerous driving matters are the same, and each case must be sentenced based on the seriousness of the crime, in the eyes of an independent and impartial judge.”

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]


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