‘He should not be on this earth’: pain-ridden dad speaks out
"PEOPLE like him should not be on this earth."
The anguished words from grief-ridden father Brian Dunigan came after the sentencing of Robert Clarence Hudson, the driver who killed his daughter.
Hudson, 39, was in no state to get behind the wheel when he drove head-on into Debralee Ricci's car on the Dimbulah-Mareeba Road on May 10, 2017.
"He drank before he left. He bought a six pack of Bundy," Mr Dunigan said.
He recently pleaded guilty in Cairns District Court to dangerous driving occasioning death and driving under the influence.
Hudson was sentenced to six years in jail - one year shy of the hoped-for seven year term recommended by Crown prosecutors.
"They thought it was as good as they could get but I did not want to accept it," Mr Dunigan said.
Mr Dunigan watched from the public gallery as Judge Dean Morzone sentenced Hudson and disqualified him from driving for a combined total of two years.
He could not bring himself to look at the defendant's face, instead staring through the back of the Hudson's head as he sought closure for his daughter.
The beloved Mareeba State School prep teacher, 54, was driving home on the day in question after dropping by to visit her parents.
"She had driven that way quite a number of times, everyday she was up and down that road," Mr Dunigan said.
Unfortunately, she crossed paths with Hudson and would not make it home, suffering catastrophic injuries.
Her father instinctively knew how serious the accident would have been.
"I used to work for the Dimbulah Fire Brigade - I knew what was going on," Mr Dunigan, 82, said.
"She did not stand a chance in hell."
Hudson had drifted from his lane and "collected" Ms Ricci at high speed about 6pm, 5km from Dimbulah.
Ms Ricci clung to life in Cairns Hospital but tragically died on Mother's Day, which was also her birthday.
Mr Dunigan said his daughter had a gift for teaching young children.
"The younger teachers could not connect with the little kids - Debralee had a gift for it," he said. "That is lost now completely."
Mr Dunigan said his two sons and daughter were embittered by Hudson's jail term.
"They wanted a much bigger term," he said.
"It was very hard for them, they were very close."
Ms Ricci's daughter Shahnee wistfully wrote to her mother one year later.
"We yearn for your loving hugs, blissful laugh, radiant smile and infectious happiness. You were one incredible lady and if there was a blueprint for the perfect mum, you would be it," Shahnee wrote.
"Craig, Brent and I are so proud to call you our mum."
Hudson will spend at least the next 540 days in a cell thanks to his catastrophic decision to drive that night. He will be eligible for parole on June 5, 2021.