There were dramatic scenes outside the Perth District Court this morning as a woman collapsed after her son was jailed for at least four years over a fatal New Year's Day crash in which a Queensland mother was killed and five others were seriously injured.
Guelor Lutumba, 27, of Thornlie, was today jailed for six years after pleading guilty to eight charges, including dangerous driving causing death, grievous bodily harm, bodily harm and contravening his learner's permit and a motor vehicle compliance order.
A 40-year-old woman from Queensland was killed and five others, including the woman's six-year-old son, were seriously injured in the January 1 crash on Dunreath Drive, which connects the international and domestic airports.
The court was told today Lutumba had four passengers in his car and he tried to overtake a truck when he collided head-on with an oncoming car carrying Perth couple Wally and Dawn Skellett.
Defence lawyer Marc Saupin said Lutumba, a former child soldier who migrated to Australia from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had made a "gross error of judgement" and he had been left shattered by the tragedy.
"He's just a shelled man," Dr Saupin said outside court.
"It's a huge warning to other drivers - you hear stories about West Australians being the worst drivers in the world. It was a gross error of judgement - no drugs, no alcohol, not the sort of stuff you see idiots on the road doing. It was just a decision he took and it was the worst decision, you just don't cross double white lines, it's a simple as that."
An ambulance had to be called after Lutumba's mother collapsed in the court room. She wailed and was given first aid shortly after her son was sentenced.
The court was told Lutumba, a learner driver, did not have his L-plates displayed or an instructor with him when he agreed to take a car load of people to the airport so they could return home to Queensland after a holiday in Perth.
The court was told Mrs Skellett was in an induced coma for 12 days, was bed-ridden for a month and is still unable to walk and requires a wheelchair.
Outside court, Mr Skellett said he had only recently started walking again and he pleaded with drivers to take more care on the roads.
"Please slow down, stop making silly decisions, there's no need to be in such rush, take your time, enjoy the journey and live life," he said.
Mr Skellett said he was quite pleased with the sentence handed to Lutumba and hoped it would serve as a warning to other motorists.
"I have no mallice towards him, I'm not angry, when I see my wife going through the pain that she is, it hurts," he said.
The court was told the Skelletts had no way of avoiding the collision.
Lutumba cried several times during his sentencing this morning, with Judge Christopher Stevenson telling him driving was a privilege and not a right.
He said Lutumba's driving was the "direct and only cause" of the tragic events which occurred.
Lutumba will have to serve at least four years before he is eligible for parole.
He was fined $850 for contravening his learner's permit and a compliance notice.