Drink driver 'dirtied her soul' in crash killing boy

A drink driver who killed a nine-year-old boy on the way home from the shops with his mother says her soul has been "dirtied".

Chronic alcoholic Kristie Merrett, 52, of Bellingen told Gosford District Court on Friday she wanted to die after causing the death of James Edds.

She had drunk a bottle of vodka the night before after arguing with her then partner, before driving the next day nearly four times over the legal limit.

"I know saying sorry or asking for forgiveness is not something that's acceptable to you," Merrett told James's grieving family after pleading guilty to aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, causing grievous bodily harm by misconduct and possessing cannabis.

"I know I have destroyed lives. I've taken a little boy away from his mother. I've taken a grandchild, a son, and I'll take this to my grave.

"As far as I'm concerned, my soul has been dirtied. I'm so sorry.

"My addiction had caused me to do something I thought I would never do."

Merrett said she had been sober for about a month before she relapsed after the argument with her then partner of 12 years.

She decided to drive to the NSW central coast to see her mother and "started to feel darker and darker" on the trip down on January 3, 2023.

Merrett bought a bottle of vodka, booked into a motel, drank it all and blacked out.

When she woke up the next day she claimed she felt OK before getting behind the wheel.

"I did not think I was over the limit. I thought I was just devastated, emotionally distressed (after arguing with her then partner).

"I wasn't tripping over. I wasn't stumbling."

She drove straight through a give-way sign at the intersection of Mort Street and George Evans Road, Killarney Vale, about 12.30pm and crashed into a silver Toyota Camry driven by Anastasia Edds.

Mrs Edds and her son, James, 9, had been on the way home from the shops after buying him new school shoes. 

The boy had been in a booster seat in the rear left passenger side which took the brunt of the impact and was trapped in the wreckage.

Mrs Edds was treated at John Hunter Hospital for a fractured spine, while James was placed in an induced coma after suffering a catastrophic brain injury, and died three days later.

Merrett, who suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital for blood tests, required a sedative before begging a police officer, "You've got a gun, just take it out and shoot me now please."

She returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.197 but a police pharmacologist estimated her reading was closer to 0.220.

Merrett's driver's licence had previously been suspended for three months in April 2021 after a mid-range drink driving offence and had an interlock device fitted for 12 months.

She had written a letter to the court in 2021 saying she would never drink again.

Merrett made the same promise in court on Friday.

Judge Justin Smith will sentence Merrett next Friday.

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