Drink driver jailed after grandma killed

·2-min read

A beloved 85-year-old grandmother's trip home from hospital ended in tragedy when a heavily intoxicated Thomas Ronald Casey ran a red light, a court has heard.

Casey, 41, was more than five times over the legal blood alcohol limit when he drove into oncoming traffic at a Brisbane intersection in May 2021, tearing the "heart and soul" out of a family.

CCTV footage was shown in the District Court of Casey ignoring a red arrow and turning at Rocklea traffic lights before hitting the grandmother's vehicle in the early hours of the morning.

The grandmother was dragged from the passenger seat by her youngest son who was driving and was taken to hospital, only to die 10 days later.

Casey recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.271 per cent.

He had 29 previous convictions for driving offences including three for drink driving.

Her family detailed the collision's devastating impact, describing the grandmother as the "glue that held us together".

"Losing her has left a huge hole in our family, one that we will never be able to fill," her granddaughter said, reading her victim impact statement.

She revealed the 85-year-old had recently become a "great grandma" for the first time after celebrating six grandchildren.

"She ... wanted to wait until her great granddaughter was vaccinated before she held her but because of this callous act the opportunity was taken away from us," the granddaughter said.

"To see our strong and independent grandma looking so ... fragile lying in that hospital bed ... is a sight I will never forget.

"Her cries of agony and bouts of delirium during the last few hours leading to her death will forever haunt us."

She said her grandfather's health soon deteriorated and he suffered a stroke before dying exactly 12 weeks after his wife of more than 60 years.

"Watching our strong and usually stoic grandpa break down beside his wife ... was absolutely soul crushing for our family to witness - he was never the same after her passing," she said.

The grandmother's son who was driving her home from the hospital has been diagnosed with depression after recovering from injuries suffered in the collision.

"He blames himself for his timing of picking up his mum and thinks if he had just done it five minutes earlier ... or later things would be different," the granddaughter said.

"Our family will never and can never be the same again ever since that fatal night."

Casey pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and driving under the influence.

"I am truly sorry for my actions and the anguish it has caused the family," Casey told the court.

"I just wanted to express my heartfelt apology, that I am taking responsibility for my addictions."

Judge Suzanne Sheridan sentenced him to six years in prison and disqualified his driver's licence permanently.

Casey will be eligible for parole in March 2024.