The crash killed back-seat passenger Katherine Gordon, 23, who was due to give birth to twins the next week, and a 17-year-old female relative who was the learner driver. Ms Gordon’s husband Bronko Hoang, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered severe injuries including a brain injury.
On Thursday, NSW District Court Judge Mark Buscombe said it was “impossible to fully comprehend the devastating impact” on the Gordon and Hoang families of losing the two young women and Ms Gordon’s two unborn boys.
“The emotional pain and loss they have suffered is severe and continuing. Their lives have been changed forever,” Judge Buscombe said.
“Two young lives were lost as a result of the offender’s disgraceful and appalling conduct.”
Moananu pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter and one charge of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
Judge Buscombe said Moananu, who was also injured in the crash, had a blood alcohol reading of 0.204 at the time, did not have a licence, and had cannabis in his blood.
“The offender’s level of intoxication was very high … some four times the legal limit,” Judge Buscombe said. “[He] must have always intended that he would drive away from the hotel.
“The offender’s conduct in driving in the circumstances in which he did amounted to gross irresponsibilty and total disregard to all users of the road that day.”
Judge Buscombe sentenced Moananu to a maximum of 15 years behind bars with a non-parole period of 10 years, after telling Penrith District Court that no sentence he imposes will alleviate the suffering of Mr Hoang or the victims’ families.
“I express my condolences to the family members on behalf of the court for their terrible loss, recognising that no words can be of any real comfort in these circumstances,” Judge Buscombe said.
The judge described Moananu’s driving that day as “erratic”, “aggressive” and “disgracefully irresponsible”, adding that his driving made a tragedy “almost inevitable”.
“He will have to bear the enormity of the consequences of what he has done for the rest of his life,” Judge Buscombe said. “He has destroyed a number of lives through his conduct.”
Moananu broke down and began to sob when police interviewed him the day after the accident and told him what he had done. He said to officers, “tell the family I’m sorry for what I’ve done”.
Judge Buscombe said he was satisfied Moananu had expressed genuine remorse and regret, but a message needed to be sent to the community that people who engage in “such disgraceful and appalling conduct” will be met with a significant sentence.
Moananu will be eligible for parole in September 2028 with time served.
Georgina Mitchell is a court reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.