The late Katherine Hoang with her husband Bronko Hoang.
The late Katherine Hoang with her husband Bronko Hoang.

Driver jailed for crash that killed twins

The man who lost his wife, two unborn sons and young relative in a catastrophic car crash in Sydney's west has challenged the drunk driver who killed them to "turn your life around" as he was sentenced to jail.

Richard Moananu was on Friday sentenced to at least 10 years for killing mum-to-be Katherine Hoang, 23, and a 17-year-old girl in the horrific collision at Orchard Hills two years ago.

Appearing via video link, Moananu sat quietly as he was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years, after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one of aggravated dangerous driving occasion grievous bodily harm.

Judge Mark Buscombe told Penrith District Court Moananu's actions on September 28, 2018 were "disgraceful and appalling", saying his decision to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.204 "destroyed a number of lives".

Richard Moananu was driving drunk having spent the day gambling at a local pub.
Richard Moananu was driving drunk having spent the day gambling at a local pub.

It was "impossible to fully comprehend" the crash's impact on the Ms Hoang's family and "no sentence could alleviate" their profound grief, Mr Buscombe said.

"The emotional pain and loss they have suffered is severe and continuing," he said.

"Their lives have been changed forever."

Moananu spent that fateful day in 2018 drinking and gambling at the St Marys Hotel before jumping behind the wheel of a Mazda 3 and screaming down The Northern Road at well above the speed limit.

Coming the other way was a Nissan Tiida carrying Ms Hoang, who was nine-months pregnant, in the back seat.

Husband Bronko Hoang sat in front supervising the young girl driving the car.

Katherine Hoang with husband Bronko Hoang, who has expressed his forgiveness for Moananu.
Katherine Hoang with husband Bronko Hoang, who has expressed his forgiveness for Moananu.

The speeding Mazda clipped a median strip, became airborne and hurtled onto the wrong side of the road, smashing into the car carrying the Hoangs, killing Katherine, her unborn children and the teenage girl.

Ms Hoang was due to give birth to the couple's first children the week after she died.

Re-enactments of the collision have calculated Moananu's car could have been travelling at speeds of at least 112kh/h at the time, the court heard.

Witnesses described seeing it going at "ridiculous speeds" and weaving in and out of traffic.

In a statement Mr Hoang thanked everyone who had supported his family and himself since the tragic incident, including the medical and emergency staff who came to their aid on the night or who had administered ongoing treatment.

The 27-year-old also reached out to Moananu and his family, ensuring them he did not wish "any hate, harm" and held "no resentment against the man who took his wife and children away.

 

Katherine Hoang was due to give birth to baby boys the week after her death.
Katherine Hoang was due to give birth to baby boys the week after her death.

"I have made peace with this incident. But the aftermath isn't something I can easily forget as this has caused a ripple effect for both families and this will forever be a part of our lives," he wrote.

Mr Hoang also revealed he held himself "somewhat accountable" for the crash and wondered if things might have been different had he been driving, and not the young relative.

He challenged Moananu to prove wrong the stigma of "a criminal will always be a criminal", telling him he had "the power and control to turn your life around".

Mr Hoang would wake from a coma weeks later with nurses forced to tie him down as he screamed in agony at discovering his wife, relative and the twins had died.

He had missed their funerals and continues to grapple with his grief, alongside ongoing medical complications linked to a traumatic brain injury and internal injuries.

The horrific crash scene at Orchard Hills. Picture: Gordon McComiskie
The horrific crash scene at Orchard Hills. Picture: Gordon McComiskie

Moananu was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.204 - four times the legal limit - and had traces of cannabis in his system, the court heard on Friday.

The court heard he had gambled away his entire pay cheque during his stint at the pub, and must have always intended to drive the 6km home despite drinking heavily as he had driven himself there about 10.30am that morning.

Mr Buscombe accepted Moananu had shown genuine remorse over the incident, and noted how the man had expressed in his evidence before the court that he wished it was he who had died instead.

The court heard Moananu has ‘obvious’ issues with drinking.
The court heard Moananu has ‘obvious’ issues with drinking.

However, the judge found the gross irresponsibility the driver had displayed demanded a significant punishment.

"He will have to bear the enormity and gravity of the offending for the rest of his life," Mr Buscombe said.

With time served Moananu will first be eligible for parole in September 2028, and will be banned from driving for three years upon his release.

Originally published as Driver jailed for crash that killed twins


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