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Killer driver's sentence cut three years

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016

An ice user who killed a grandfather in a hit-and-run after stealing a car that he could not drive and while his licence was suspended has had three years cut from his minimum jail sentence.

Matthew Lehn was last March sentenced to at least eight years' jail over a fatal 2013 collision, in which he was speeding when he smashed into Harry McCarroll, 75, at Ambarvale, overturning the stolen car before fleeing with a passenger.

Lehn appealed the sentence on the grounds it was excessive and the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal agreed, quashing the original sentence and imposing a new non-parole period of five years, on Friday.

Lehn's lawyers successfully argued he was only given a 20 per cent discount for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity, rather than 25 per cent.

Further, this affected the way aggregate sentence for aggravated dangerous driving causing death, stealing a motor vehicle and two counts of possessing prohibited drugs was constructed, the appeal court heard.

Lehn was behind the wheel of a manual car when he killed Mr McCarroll, having stolen it at about 5am on June 10, 2013.

Five hours later, he picked up a mate and they took some cannabis.

The then 24-year-old told police he was "drug affected every day", and was using cannabis and ice frequently as well as taking prescription medication.

"He smoked ice the day before the collision and had last smoked ice about half an hour before the collision," the court heard.

"He had last slept three or four nights before the collision and had not eaten anything over the same period."

After they scored drugs, Lehn and his passenger were seen speeding down a road in a 50km/h zone at more than 70km/h.

Lehn, a learner driver with a suspended licence who could not drive a manual car, tried to turn a bend but caused the car to swerve uncontrollably towards a nature strip.

"The victim, Mr McCarroll, was walking south along the grassed nature strip at the time," the court said in its appeal judgment on Friday.

The car smashed into Mr McCarroll and he was thrown a "considerable distance" while the car continued and uprooted a small tree before rolling over and crashing into the verandah of a house.

A witness went to assist Mr McCarroll who was lying unresponsive on the verandah stairs and heard banging from inside the upturned car.

"(The witness) then saw (Lehn) get out of the vehicle through the rear window and run off," the court heard.

"(Lehn) did not stop or look back."

Mr McCarroll later died in Campbelltown Hospital.

Following Friday's appeal, the earliest date Lehn is eligible for release is December 9, 2018.

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