Nilly Mooney, 15, died after she was struck by a car driven by Jessica May Goulding on March 1, 2020. Goulding has appealed the three-year jail term handed down for failing to remain at the scene and render assistance and a string of drug charges. Picture: Supplied
Nilly Mooney, 15, died after she was struck by a car driven by Jessica May Goulding on March 1, 2020. Goulding has appealed the three-year jail term handed down for failing to remain at the scene and render assistance and a string of drug charges. Picture: Supplied

Driver ‘left a dying child’ in the middle of the street

The driver who left a popular Mackay teen injured and dying on a dark stretch of road has been labelled "morally reprehensible" during a bid to have her penalty reduced.

A Mackay court heard Jessica May Goulding's three-year jail term could be slashed by six months.

About 60 grieving loved ones of 15-year-old Nilly Mooney packed the gallery inside Mackay District Court to hear the appeal. It was an emotionally charged atmosphere.

Heartbroken mother Tania Rudall (right) was surrounded by supporters who packed Mackay District Court for the appeal hearing of driver Jessica May Goulding.
Heartbroken mother Tania Rudall (right) was surrounded by supporters who packed Mackay District Court for the appeal hearing of driver Jessica May Goulding.

"She left my baby there … she just drove off," Nilly's mother Tania Rudall's distressed voice pierced the low muttering from the gallery as they waited for Goulding to appear via videolink.

In October last year Goulding pleaded guilty to 43 charges including failing to remain at the scene and render assistance for striking Nilly at Beaconsfield on March 1, 2020.

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She was jailed for two years for the driving charge and 12 months cumulative for a drug matter.

Goulding has appealed the penalty on the grounds it was manifestly excessive.

The court heard harrowing details of how Nilly was still alive on Nicklin Dr when Goulding fled the scene, not knowing if anyone had called for help.

Jessica May Goulding was jailed for three years for 43 charges including one linked to the death of schoolgirl Nilly Mooney
Jessica May Goulding was jailed for three years for 43 charges including one linked to the death of schoolgirl Nilly Mooney

 

Judge Paul Smith said it was a "very serious case of leaving this young girl injured and then dying on the street".

"She drove off, hands herself in 12 hours later depriving the police of a chance to breath test her, check whether drugs were in her system," he said.

"Getting bail, driving while affected by a drug, while on bail. I would have thought (she) might have learned a lesson from this."

However Judge Smith raised concerns about the 12 months cumulative term for one of the drug matters, given it was connected to a charge for 1.4 grams of powder for self use with no analysis to say how much drugs, if any, were in the substance.

Tributes for Nilly Mooney, who was killed in an alleged hit and run, are a tragic reminder of the 15 year old’s death on March 1, 2020 at Beaconsfield.
Tributes for Nilly Mooney, who was killed in an alleged hit and run, are a tragic reminder of the 15 year old’s death on March 1, 2020 at Beaconsfield.

 

Defence barrister Stephen Byrne said two men had remained at the scene, a passenger from Goulding's car and someone from another car following behind.

"It was her passenger who urged her to leave the scene because she was panicking and hysterical at the time," Mr Byrne said, arguing her case could be distinguished from someone who did not stop or who left no one behind.

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"And one of them called Triple-0.

"She did stop. She reacted, she reacted poorly."

Mr Byrne said there was about a six to 12 months difference in what any new head sentence could be.

But the Crown argued there was no evidence suggesting Goulding knew Triple-0 had been called when she holed up at Mount Ossa for 12 hours.

Loved ones of Nilly Mooney packed Mackay District Court for the appeal hearing of driver Jessica May Goulding. They embraced outside court once the matter was finished.
Loved ones of Nilly Mooney packed Mackay District Court for the appeal hearing of driver Jessica May Goulding. They embraced outside court once the matter was finished.

"(She) left a dying child in the middle of the street after striking her while driving," Crown legal officer Ryan Godfrey said.

"At the time immediately after the incident, she stopped, got out of the car and then in the moment where she's standing (at) a tragedy which she's been a part of she makes the morally reprehensible decision to flee.

"That (she) was told to leave by someone else is neither an excuse nor an explanation."

Mr Godfrey said Goulding "showed a lack of remorse by delaying to contact the authorities, and offended again and again while on bail".

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He argued that aside from her plea there was "nothing to suggest any remorse".

Mr Godfrey told the court 2.5 years would be an appropriate sentence in accordance with the criminality.

Goulding has spent just under seven months in jail. The court heard she had breached a district court probation order with the offending and could be sentenced to up to six months jail concurrent with any new penalty.

Judge Smith reserved his decision for a date to be fixed.

Nilly's mother Tania Rudall and older sister Ebony Mooney
Nilly's mother Tania Rudall and older sister Ebony Mooney

Outside Mackay courthouse Nilly's mother Ms Rudall and sister Ebony Mooney thanked all their loved ones and the community for showing their support.

"We're still seeking justice," Ms Mooney said.

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