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Unlicenced driver kills pregnant fiancé

24-Sep-2013

 

A driver was rushing to get medical help for his pregnant fiancee ahead of a fatal crash at Woodville Park, a court has been told.

The prosecution has asked the Adelaide District Court to give the man a lengthy prison term, while the defence wants a suspended sentence.

John Ceruto, 31, was drunk, on drugs and driving unlicensed at about 130 kilometres per hour in a 50kph zone when he lost control of the car and slammed into a Stobie pole and a tree. His fiancee, Lisa Smith, 23, was killed in the smash. Already with two children, she was just weeks away from giving birth to Ceruto's son, who was to be named Chase. The court heard Ceruto was seen running naked from the scene of the crash.

His lawyer Stacey Carter said Ceruto suffered memory loss from the crash, receiving big cuts to his head and shattered glass in his eyes.

The dead woman's sister Rebecca fought back tears as she read a statement in the court on behalf of her mother, Kerry Ann. She described her daughter's death as a "most horrific, painful and life-changing experience". "I find it difficult to know the only people who helped Lisa after the crash were the strangers to whom I am so grateful," she said. "To this day I can still not understand why you (Ceruto) acted the way that you did. Lisa lost her life because of your stupid actions that morning. "I will never forgive you for what you have done."

Ms Smith's children Hannah and Blake, who were six and four at the time of their mother's death, were living with their grandparents when the crash happened. "The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my whole life was tell my grandchildren that their mother was dead and that they would never see her again," the statement to the court continued. "Instead of being secondary caregivers ... we now find ourselves confronted with the emotional, physical and financial demands of raising children on a day-to-day basis.

"Blake wets the bed and has nightmares, he also panics when someone in our family isn't home on time, he think that they too have had a car accident."

Ms Stacey Carter told the court Ceruto had woken up in a panic and Ms Smith was crying with pain. There had been pregnancy complications and the couple had no landline or mobile phone. The court was told that, without getting dressed, Ceruto got into the car. She said the crash was a "dreadful tragedy" Ceruto would "carry with him forever".

During the hearing, Ceruto apologised the victim's family. "I stand before you a broken man, having lost my fiancee and unborn boy, Chase," he said. "I have ongoing nightmares and flashbacks. "Losing someone you love is one of the most devastating experiences."

Ms Carter said Ceruto had a difficult upbringing, losing his father and uncle to drug overdoses and his mother at the hands of his violent stepfather. She said Ceruto and Ms Smith loved each other, he had asked her to marry him and they had been making their plans for the future.

But prosecutor Jill Lieschke described it as "extremely serious offending". She said neighbours heard screaming and a man yelling "Get in the car, get in the **** car", as well as the sound of smashing glass before the car sped off. The prosecution asked for an immediate and lengthy custodial sentence. Ceruto will be sentenced on Friday.

See original article:  Drunk unlicensed driver John Ceruto pleads for sentence mercy over fatal smash which killed pregnant fiancee Lisa Smith

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