A young woman has been sentenced to just three months in jail after filming a Snapchat video of herself while drink driving in the Queensland outback, causing a high-speed crash that killed her workmate.
On Thursday, Kate Ellen Alford pleaded guilty to the dangerous operation of a vehicle that lead to the death of her friend, drink driving, using a handheld mobile phone while driving and failing to wear a seatbelt, in September 2020.
Alford, then 19, and Amy Pilgrim, 23, had been out drinking at the Springsure Hotel, Central Queensland, when Alford decided to drive them 130km back to the cattle station where they both worked.
Alford, then 19, had been filming a Snapchat video while drink driving in September 2020 when she lost control of her vehicle, killing friend Amy Pilgrim, 23
The court heard a worried friend had warned Alford – still on her P2 plates – against drink driving and followed her Toyota Prado in another vehicle.
The friend said Alford had been exceeding the speed limit before stopping for a short 20 minute break.
Neither of the girls put their seat belts back on when they re-entered the vehicle.
Alford had been filming a six-second video of herself and Ms Pilgrim on Snapchat while driving.
A scream could be heard on the video as Alford lost control of the car, drove up onto the dirt shoulder, clipped a tree, and rolled the car several times.
Ms Pilgrim was found 20 metres from where the Prado landed.
Their friend arrived at the scene a short time later but had to leave the girls to find phone reception to call emergency services.
Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis said when the friend returned Alford was attempting to resuscitate Ms Pilgrim with CPR while crying ‘I killed Amy. I’m going to jail. I killed her’ before passing out.
The court heard Ms Pilgrim died due to multiple catastrophic injuries.
Alford’s blood alcohol level tests taken two hours after the accident returned a reading of 0.071.
Australia’s legal alcohol limit for open licence holders is 0.05.
Amy Pilgrim’s body was found 20 metres from the car crash in rural Queensland, September 2020
Judge Burnett told the court Ms Pilgrim’s life had been tragically ended too soon due to Alford’s negligence and said he was shocked by people’s ‘narcissistic behaviour when they should be focused on the road ahead’.
‘This is a case where there are no winners,’ he said.
‘It is an unfortunate reality that these cases commonly do involve young people with excessive self confidence and immature youth, who are recklessly indifferent to their own safety and the safety of others on the road.’
Ms Pilgrim’s family said she had travelled to Queensland from her Victorian farm home to fulfill her dream of working on a Central Queensland cattle station.
The court heard Alford has since been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and post traumatic stress after drinking heavily to cope with the fatal accident.
Judge Burnett said he believed Alford’s early guilty plea, remorse, lack of criminal or traffic history, and ‘excellent antecedents’ showed she would successfully rehabilitate.
‘Ultimately it is much better for the community, you, after having served time, are encouraged to get on with life … to make amends as best you can for the tragedy you visited upon another family,’ Judge Burnett said.
Alford was sentenced to three years jail – suspended after three months – for the negligent driving which resulted in the death of her friend.
She was also sentenced to a concurrent three months jail and 18 months probation for drink driving and has been disqualified from driving for four years.
Amy Pilgrim’s parents Kate and Steven Pilgrim told the Herald Sun the three month jail sentence didn’t equal the pain they have suffered after the loss of their daughter.
‘We knew no sentence handed down was going to reduce the pain we all live with daily, after the loss of our beautiful child and sister Amy,’ they said.
Alford was sentenced to three years jail – suspended after three months – for the negligent driving which resulted in the death of her friend
‘Three months’ imprisonment is nothing in comparison to the life sentence we have to live without Amy, after Amy’s senseless loss of life.’
Mrs Pilgrim had told the court in her victim impact statement that nothing would ease the family’s loss.
‘This hell is never going to go away. We live in a new world of hopelessness, loneliness and life without Amy,’ she said.
‘We are always looking for our baby, always playing catch up. There is no end. This is hell. The tears never end.’
Amy Pilgrim’s family was only able to invite 20 people to her Victorian funeral in Nhill due to Covid restrictions.
Instead members of Ms Pilgrim’s hometown sport and riding clubs formed her a guard of honour in the street.