Drunk woman’s jail sentence for killing 4yo

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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this story contains images of people who have died.

Four-year-old Vogue Elers went kayaking with friends and family two years ago and never came home.

Her heartbroken mother has shared her anguish as she “fights for justice” for her daughter.

Speaking exclusively to news.com.au outside the NSW Supreme Court, Brooke Elers said no length of jail time served by the woman responsible for her little girl’s death could bring her back.

“But eighteen months is not enough,” she said through tears, referring to the minimum sentence handed to Tamarah Eaton over the tragedy.

Vogue Elers died while kayaking. Picture: FacebookVogue Elers died while kayaking. Picture: Facebook

“We feel like we’re in an uphill battle”.

Eaton, 37, is facing an appeal brought by the Crown after she was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison with a non-parole period of 18 months in December last year over Vogue’s death on the Karuah River, north of the NSW city of Newcastle.

Brooke Elers and Vogue.Brooke Elers and Vogue.

She had pleaded guilty to aggravated culpable navigation causing death.

The court heard she was extremely drunk when she and Vogue got into a kayak that capsized.

The four-year-old girl died in on June 1, 2021. Picture: FacebookThe four-year-old girl died in on June 1, 2021. Picture: Facebook

But Crown prosecutor, Monica Millward, has argued in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal that her sentence — which was shorter than Vogue’s life — was “manifestly inadequate”.

The court heard Eaton and Vogue had never met but were connected through a group of family and friends who went fishing on June 1, 2021, after Eaton had drank a bottle of vodka.

The group decided Vogue would sit in Eaton’s one-person kayak because it was the largest.

While the rest of the group went to get lunch, the pair kayaked further from the shore they were initially fishing near. When Eaton tried to paddle back, the kayak capsized, causing Vogue to drown.

Vogue’s loved ones pictured with a framed photo of Vogue. Picture: FacebookVogue’s loved ones pictured with a framed photo of Vogue. Picture: Facebook

Ms Millward argued the objective seriousness of the crime was higher than Judge McGrath SC found during sentencing.

The court heard Judge McGrath found Eaton’s mental health issues and deprived upbringing somewhat mitigated her moral culpability, lowering the crime’s seriousness to mid-range.

But Ms Millward argued moral culpability “had to be balanced against other factors, having regard to the seriousness of conduct”.

She told the court the sentence also included an unjustified discount for remorse, though she did not contest Eaton’s remorse was genuine.

A mural made in honour of Vogue. Picture: FacebookA mural made in honour of Vogue. Picture: Facebook

However, Eaton’s barrister, Peter Krisenthal, argued his client’s sentence was “not an affront to justice for those in possession of all the facts”.

“Ms Eaten suffers from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder — and these proceedings have caused her ongoing stress,” he said, a statement which was met with a scoff from some of the dozen of supporters in the courtroom.

Mr Krisenthal argued Eaton’s deprived background and significant mental health issues warranted her sentence severity, noting Judge McGrath found her alcoholism was relevant because she was affected by alcohol at the time.

The Newcastle funeral for Vogue. Picture: FacebookThe Newcastle funeral for Vogue. Picture: Facebook

“In my submission, he didn’t give her subjective case any undue weight,” Mr Krisenthal told the court.

“She has quite severe psychiatric issues”.

Among Vogue’s loved ones who sat in the courtroom was a man holding a framed photo of the gorgeous little girl.

Many supporters were visibly emotional throughout the proceedings.

Eaton appeared via video link in prison greens with a frown on her face for most of the day.

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Justice Peter Hamill SC, Justice Julia Lily Ann Lonergan SC and Justice Mark Ierace SC are presiding over the Crown’s appeal.

They reserved their judgment for a later date.

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