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Drunk driver jailed for killing WA women

A Perth driver who was drunk and speeding when he drove through a red light and ploughed into another car, killing two young women, has been jailed for 11 years.

Shane Bradley Pearce, 50, had multiple drink-driving convictions and was unlicensed when he caused the death of physiotherapist Lauren Prothero and special needs teacher Paige Ward, both 27, in a horror crash last May.

He then left the scene without assisting the women before being arrested at a nearby shopping centre.

Pearce, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing the friends, was sentenced in the WA Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The court heard he had been drinking with a co-worker for most of the day after his scaffolding job was called off early due to rain.

He was described as being very drunk when he got behind the wheel of his four-wheel drive and later recorded a blood alcohol reading four times the legal limit.

The court heard Pearce’s co-worker, who was in the passenger seat, repeatedly yelled “red light, red light” as the car sped towards the intersection but Pearce did not slow down.

He crashed into Ms Prothero’s car with enormous force, causing both women “catastrophic” injuries.

Justice Bruno Fianacca told the court other drivers had stopped to call for help and attempt to resuscitate the trapped women, but Pearce offered no assistance and demanded to know whether one witness was calling the police.

“In contrast to the conscientious and heroic efforts of other concerned citizens, you made no attempt to render any assistance to either Ms Prothero or Ms Ward,” the judge said.

“In general, your attitude to those people can best be described as belligerent and involving denials that anything was wrong or that anyone was hurt.”

Pearce later told police he could not remember anything about the incident.

In a letter to the court, Pearce said he had hit “rock bottom” after the death of his brother three months earlier and had used alcohol as a coping mechanism for his depression.

Ms Prothero’s mother described her as an “energetic and vibrant person whose gentle and unassuming nature drew people in”.

Ms Ward was described as a “committed and inspirational young adult” who, like Ms Prothero, had dedicated time to charity work.

Justice Fianacca said Pearce’s offending had had a devastating impact on the families and friends of the two women.

“At the age of 27, both victims were entering the prime of their lives, having already achieved much and looking forward to building their careers and starting families,” he said.

Justice Fianacca jailed Pearce for 11 years and imposed a 10-year driving ban. Pearce will be eligible for parole after serving nine years.

Michael Ramsey – Australian Associated Press

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