NSW crash victim reveals his heartbreak

By Margaret Scheikowski
A young drink driver has been jailed for at least two-and-a-half years over a fatal crash in NSW.

A young drink driver has been jailed over a crash which killed a teacher and left her long-term partner with horrific injuries.

"My body is smashed and my heart is broken," survivor John Bussing told the NSW District Court on Thursday.

Brook Elise Wardhaugh, 23, of Thirroul, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Marisa Cochrane, 57, and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Bussing, then 60, in June last year at Waterfall in Sydney's south.

The accident happened late at night on a stretch of straight road, when Wardhaugh's car hit the back of the couple's vehicle, causing it to crash into a tree.

Judge Peter Berman jailed Wardhaugh for five years, with a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years, and disqualified her from driving for five years.

While noting her guilty pleas, former good character, and deep remorse, he said those details covered most drink drivers who gambled with the lives and welfare of other road users.

Mr Bussing, who now has to use crutches and cannot walk far, said they had been driving home after "a magical evening full of love and laughter" with friends.

Ms Cochrane, the mother of their son, was his life partner, his best friend of more than 30 years and the beautiful, gentle matriarch of the family.

"My legs were crushed and mangled ... my face, I am told, was unrecognisable," he said.

When his beloved partner's life support machine was turned off last August, her devoted twin brother and Mr Bussing each held her hand as she took her last breath.

"The mental image of her final hours will haunt those close to us for the rest of our lives."

Wardhaugh, a nurse, told the judge of making "the worse decision I could have made" when she got behind the wheel to drive to her mother's place in Thirroul from her flat in Malabar.

She had earlier had some cannabis, before drinking with colleagues and when she got back to her flat she felt "crap because I was drinking and was alone".

Wardhaugh, who has a long history of anxiety and other mental health issues, said she had just wanted to go home and "see my mum" despite knowing it was not safe for her to drive.