ON the morning of December 14, 2016, respected architect, environmentalist and volunteer Jennifer Bates received a death sentence.
Atop her scooter and on her way to work, Mrs Bates was hit and killed by an ice-addled driver who burst into a busy roundabout at Wickham.
That day her loving family; her mum and dad, her husband and her many friends and colleagues, were given a life sentence.
And on Friday in Newcastle District Court, Lee Ranclaud, the man who killed Mrs Bates when he came “flying” over the Cowper Street bridge in his ute, received a sentence of his own.
Ranclaud, now 33, of North Lambton, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter over Mrs Bates’ death, was jailed for a maximum of seven years, with a non-parole period of four years.
He will be eligible for parole in 2022.
About half-an-hour after Ranclaud had disappeared down into the courthouse cells, Mrs Bates’ family, her mother, Kathryn Bennett, her father, Kenneth Phelan, her husband, Jordi Bates, and many others stood together outside Newcastle courthouse.
Their focus was on Jen’s life, what she had achieved and her many endearing qualities, not the horrific and tragic way she had died.
“It is most important to us that Jennifer is remembered for how she lived, not how she died,” Ms Bennett said.
“She had nothing to do with how she died, but everything to do with how she lived.
“But of course this court case is all about how Jennifer died and the sentence that has been given to the man who caused her death.
“It was Lee Ranclaud who gave Jennifer the death sentence.
“As a consequence he has given us a life sentence.
“A life without Jen.”
Ms Bennett encouraged her daughter’s killer to focus on some of the qualities Jen had demonstrated during her short life.
“Braveness, perseverance, justice, honesty and a concern for others,” Ms Bennett said.
When told she appeared incredibly composed, Ms Bennett compared herself to a duck on a pond; calm on the surface, paddling like hell underneath.
And had Friday’s sentence provide a sense of relief?
“No, in fact I feel as if my grief is now about to start.”