Driver's minimum sentence tripled

A WOMAN who killed two nurses at an Edgeworth pedestrian crossing after ignoring medical advice and smoking cannabis before driving has had her minimum jail sentence tripled after an appeals court found her moral culpability was high.

The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday quashed the maximum four years' jail, with a minimum two years, given to Karen Lee Winter, substituting it with a nine-year term and a non-parole period of six years. The Crown had appealed the sentence, claiming it was "manifestly inadequate".

Winter, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter after she crashed into nurses Janet Sharples and Rebecca Weir as the pair were waiting to cross the road outside the Edgeworth Tavern on October 7, 2010.

Winter, a delivery van driver, had been told not to drive by medics earlier that day after giving her morphine for a migraine. Instead, she went home and smoked cannabis before jumping behind the wheel.

Justice Peter McClellan said although sentencing judge Robert Toner SC had found Winter had driven knowing she could lose consciousness, "that risk was not a mere possibility".

"Although the sentencing judge believed that it was appropriate to exclude consideration of the fact that the respondent had received morphine, smoked cannabis and been warned not to drive again that day I do not believe that it was open to him to do so," Justice McClellan found.

He said finding that Winter's loss of consciousness was due to her undiagnosed epilepsy had led the judge to lessen her culpability.

"Although not of the highest order of culpability, the respondent's determination to return to work in the face of the medical advice she had been given and her own knowledge of her potential to lose consciousness places her moral culpability at a high level," Justice McClellan said.

He found Winter's remorse was lessened because she lied about knowing she could black out. Winter will not be eligible for parole until at least November 16, 2017.

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