Sarah and Peter Milosevic with baby Sophie who was stillborn after a crash left them with severe injuries. Supplied.
Sarah and Peter Milosevic with baby Sophie who was stillborn after a crash left them with severe injuries. Supplied.

Justice for Sophie: Parents' plea over death of unborn child

Six days before expectant parents Sarah and Peter Milosevic were due to welcome their unborn daughter Sophie into the world a drugged up and drunk driver ploughed into their family car.

Instead of bringing baby Sophie home to her already prepared nursery, Sarah lay in a hospital bed with a broken back clutching her dead daughter in her arms while Peter watched on with a broken neck.

Sophie's death on that fateful day on August 29, 2014 was not recognised as murder or manslaughter or in any charge that ended in "occasioning death"; instead she was listed as one of the many massive injuries Sarah suffered.

As Peter and Sarah organised a funeral for their forever young Sophie, the man responsible for the crash - Rodney Leigh Shaw - dodged a prison sentence because Queensland law could not hold him responsible for the death of Sophie.

Instead, Shaw got off with a "pathetic" $950 fine and five month suspension of his driver's licence.

In the six years since losing their daughter and watching the driver walk free, Sarah and Peter have fought for legislative change to hold those who commit criminal acts that result in the death of unborn babies in utero to be charged accordingly.

The Lockyer Valley couple have reignited their push for reform, following the tragic deaths of Kate Leadbetter and her partner Matthew Field and their unborn son Miles on Australia Day.

Sarah said she was "devastated" to see the death of another unborn child and for the person police allege was responsible to not be held accountable due to a lack of laws.

"I had to recompose myself - it is getting harder and harder," Sarah said.

A 17-year-old boy was charged with the murder of Kate and Matthew in the days following the horror crash, however where the death of their unborn son sits legally is currently under scrutiny.

"This particular accident, while they all touch me, because it was as horrific and violent as ours, hit really hard for me," Sarah said.

Sarah Milosevic clutches baby Sophie after a crash caused her to be stillborn six days before she was due to be born.
Sarah Milosevic clutches baby Sophie after a crash caused her to be stillborn six days before she was due to be born.

 

Lockyer MP and former police officer Jim McDonald joined the Milosevic's push for state law reform and shared their outrage that under Queensland law, there is no provision to identify an unborn baby as a victim, unless it was a domestic violence offence and the offender knew the woman is pregnant.

Sarah told the Gatton Star she had rung Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's office last week to request a sit down meeting but was denied any opportunity.

"They didn't even take my details down - they won't even acknowledge me," Sarah said.

It's been an uphill battle for Sarah and Peter, in 2016 the couple presented the Queensland Labor Government with a petition containing 100,000 signatures, named Sophie's Law, calling for a change to the criminal code.

Four-and-a-half years later, and nothing has changed.

"The government always tells me that it's too hard, or too complex, but they won't even sit down with me to discuss it" Sarah said.

She reopened the online petition following the deaths of Kate, Matthew and Miles and has so far received an additional 4000 signatures.

"I can't get justice for Sophie. I'm doing this so another mother or father or family never have to go through what we have in a court," Sarah said.

In Queensland, if a child is past 20 weeks gestation and dies there has to be a birth certificate, death certificate and funeral.

"So why only in a court of law, does a baby have no rights to be counted" Sarah said.

Sophie Milosevic who was stillborn due to a car crash in 2014. Supplied.
Sophie Milosevic who was stillborn due to a car crash in 2014. Supplied.

 

Jim McDonald said the LNP in 2017 took a motion to their state conference that was supported, unopposed that the parliamentary team review and implement laws that would recognise tragic deaths like Sophie's and Miles'.

Mr McDonald told the Gatton Star he believed the best way to pursue Sophie's Law was to amend the criminal code to include an unborn child.

"To me that meets the community's expectation," Mr McDonald said.

The penalty handed to Rodney Shaw in Sarah and Peter's case "just didn't wash," he said.

Mr McDonald said the community support of Sarah and Peter's petition showed the extent to which the public support a change in the criminal code.

"At the moment there is a big gap in the law," Mr McDonald said.

The Milosevic's were told the government would "monitor" developments in other jurisdictions.

"Forget about what other states do - let's set the agenda and standard," Mr McDonald said.

"Miles doesn't have mum and dad to fight for the law like Sarah and Peter have for Sophie," Mr McDonald said.

The MP has recommended to Sarah and Peter they pursue a "delegation" to the Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman.

"There isn't hundreds of these events happening, but there should be some law covering it if it does - it doesn't have to be complicated," Mr McDonald said.

MP says government's move to treat 17-year-olds as children was "purely political"

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition to the Queensland Government wanting laws around "reoffending juveniles" tightened following Kate and Matthew's deaths on January 26.

The 17-year-old alleged driver from Waterford West in Logan, was on bail when he crashed an allegedly stolen car, killing the couple and their unborn child.

Mr McDonald told the Gatton Star a youth crime problem "absolutely" exists in Queensland and said there are many "recidivist juvenile offenders" who are teaching their younger brothers, sisters or friends "how to get away with things".

The MP joined former premier Campbell Newman's call last week for the government to send repeat juvenile offenders to detention centres.

"Give them the opportunity to work with a role model on farms - give them a proper pathway for their future," Mr McDonald said.

Mr McDonald said he "disagreed" with a 17-year-old being treated as a child in the law.

"They can drive, they've been through school, they can have a kid - moving the age to include 17 as the age of a child was pure politics," Mr McDonald said.



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