Father-in-law jailed over Bris River death

·2-min read

Jamie Luke Harwood was intoxicated, speeding and not qualified to drive the boat he crashed into a Brisbane River jetty, killing his daughter-in-law.

The 48-year-old New Zealand citizen, who moved to Australia aged 11, has been jailed and faces deportation over the incident on November 4, 2020.

His 21-year-old daughter-in-law, Nicole Herbert, was in the boat with her de facto partner and small child at the time of the crash.

The aluminium dinghy hit a private jetty on the Brisbane River at Chelmer after the group had been on the water for about four hours.

Harwood took a case of VB along for a day's fishing, and it's not known how many beers he had before the crash, the Brisbane District Court was told on Monday.

His son had been driving for most of the trip before handing the controls over to Harwood, who was travelling over the speed limit.

Ms Herbert hit her head as a result of the collision and died at the scene.

The others were taken to hospital where Harwood refused a blood alcohol test, saying he didn't do needles, Judge Katherine McGinness said.

Ms Herbert was the only person to sustain significant injuries, but the repercussions of her death have been far-reaching.

Her family was present for the sentencing on Monday, and there were tears during a victim impact statement from her father.

"I cannot explain the pain I feel when my granddaughter calls out for her mother, a mother that can never reply," the statement from Rodger Herbert said.

"The grief of knowing my granddaughter only got to spend two short years with the best mother on the planet, the pain of thinking how much she has lost and how needless and senseless it all is."

Their suffering will go on, but the family is pleased the court matter is over, Mr Herbert said in a statement outside court.

His daughter had no idea about boats, and saw her role onboard as protector of her daughter Kylah.

"She always sat at the front of the boat facing backwards to keep a constant vigil on her daughter, as any decent mother would," he said.

Through his lawyer, Harwood said he had a close and loving relationship with Ms Herbert and feels anguish over the knowledge his son will raise his grandchild as a single parent.

He's lived in Australia for decades and has a wife and four children in the country, but will likely face deportation as he remains a NZ citizen.

Harwood pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vessel causing death while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, and three summary offences.

He was jailed for six years with parole eligibility after about 17 months.

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