ALAN and Judith Howle’s children have not removed the couple’s clothes from their wardrobe, his glasses from the night stand or her knitting from the lounge in the 16 months since they died.
They are still half hoping their parents will come home.
Thecouple, in their 70s, were killed in July last year by vehicles travelling at more than 100kmh in a 60kmh zone.
Robert James Borkowski, 38, had been travelling abreast with Adam James McDonald in another car when he hit the Howles outside St Mary’s Band Club on the Great Western Highway, making a noise witnesses later described as an explosion.
Mr Howle was thrown from the car and died immediately. The vehicle spun 180 degrees and stopped 35 metres away, causing fatal injuries to Mrs Howle. McDonald’s vehicle then hit Borkowski’s vehicle, which broke down with its speedometer stuck at 130kmh.
In Penrith District Court yesterday the two men were sentenced to jail for manslaughter. They had pleaded guilty.
Borkowski will serve a minimum of six years and McDonald a minimum of five. They will be eligible for parole in 2013, with Borkowski having already served a year in prison.
The Howles’s son Phillip said he hoped the family could now put the incident behind them. "There were no winners in this situation," he said. "We will always love them and never forget them."
The court heard a letter Borkowski had written to the Howle family in which he said he planned to educate inexperienced and dangerous drivers on the perils on driving recklessly.
"There has to be something I can do to stop others following the same track that I did," it said. He sat through the hearing with his head and eyes downcast.
The Howle family was represented by at least 24 of the couple’s descendants. Their daughter Cathryn Przybyla told the court all the children had suffered marital problems since July 29 last year. Some had lost their businesses. One could not sleep without medication or alcohol. "That cold, cold night changed us all," Ms Przybyla said. "They died alone, Dad on the road, Mum trapped in the car.
"Any testament to what they deserved in life? No."
Judge Bill Knight said the community was sick of people driving irresponsibly. "What I’m concerned about is that two decent, law-abiding citizens have been killed because of the outrageous conduct of these two men. You would have to have a heart of stone not to feel sympathy for the family. But it doesn’t bring the two people back by throwing away the key."