AMANDA Lee Clarke had smoked ice only a few hours before she fell asleep behind the wheel and careered into a large tree off Congewai Road, killing her front seat passenger.
Clarke, 29, was on Friday jailed for a maximum of three years in Newcastle District Court, with a non-parole period of 18 months after she pleaded guilty to aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, admitting to being "very substantially impaired" by methylamphetamine at the time of the crash.
Clarke was driving along Congewai Road about 1am on March 14 last year when her Toyota Corolla sedan left the road and collided with a large tree before spinning out of control and rolling, according to an agreed statement of facts. The victim, 30-year-old Joel Richard Thompson, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. He died at the scene. Two people who lived nearby heard the crash and rushed to help.
They discovered Clarke walking around distressed repeating: "I was so tired, I was so tired". Clarke suffered minor injuries and was taken to John Hunter Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.
"I wasn't doing any more than 80km/h," Clarke told detectives at the hospital. "I approached a right-hand bend, then I must have fallen asleep. I woke up and saw a tree. I couldn't move fast enough. I swerved to the right but I hit the tree."
Clarke admitted to smoking ice a couple of hours before the crash and later told police she used the drug most days.
She said she had smoked ice in the driveway of her parents home a couple of hours before the crash and had been falling asleep while her and Mr Thompson were sitting in the car.
They went for a drive and she fell asleep again, Clarke said. Subsequent analysis of Clarke's blood returned a positive reading for drugs, including 0.40mg/L of methylamphetamine and 0.06mg/L of amphetamine, prompting clinical pharmacologist Dr Judith Pearl to opine that Clarke was "under the influence of methylamphetamine to the extent that there would have been very substantial impairment of her driving ability".