Justice For Mehali Pastrikos, Wade Williams & Miguel Pechay! Sentence Appeal! TF Inquest!
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On Wednesday May 22 2019 at 1147pm, Andrea Groening sped through a red light at 114kph in a 70kph zone in her Toyota Rav 4, colliding with Ford Ranger, killing 7 year old Mehali Anastasios Pastrikos and her 21 year old boyfriend Wade Williams. The driver of the Ranger also suffered horrific injuries, including several spinal fractures, a renal laceration and heart contusions. He also suffers from PTSD and severe depression as a result of the crash. He has survivor’s guilt as he lived, and Mehali, an innocent boy, didn’t.
Wade was pronounced dead on the scene due to his injuries. Mehali was extricated from the vehicle, as was Andrea, and while Emergency Services and by-standers made attempts to resuscitate her son, she was heard screaming at Wade, “This is what happens when you drink and drive”. She made no attempt to check on her son as per emergency services. Despite all efforts, Mehali was pronounced deceased upon arrival to The Royal Darwin Hospital. We have since found out the efforts made would never have saved his life as his injuries meant death upon impact.
Approximately one hour after his son was pronounced dead, Mehalis father and family were woken by a policeman at the front door, stating the words that still to this day haunt him, that there was an accident involving the mother of his child, and he had to go to the hospital as a child’s body had been recovered. He then drove the 20+ kilometres to the local emergency department but couldn’t be seen to straight away, as the coroner was required for the conversations that needed to take place. He then had to sit there, and wait, still not knowing if it was his child, or someone else’s. We as a family had to pray it was someone else’s child in there, and not our boy. Sometime later the coroner arrived, and took Anastasi and his parents Michael and Natalie into a room to tell them what had occurred, while his partner and two sisters stayed in the waiting room. Anastasi then was asked to do the impossible: to formally identify his 7year old son’s body. During this time, he was unaware that Andrea was merely meters away behind a curtain still unconscious herself. At no point was he made aware of her condition, or if she were even alive.
After this, his family left the hospital.
It wasn’t until the sun came up and we attended the police station that we were made aware that Andrea had been drunk and under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. Again, we were not allowed insight as to her condition, only aware that she for now, was alive. We were formally interviewed and questioned regarding Andreas ability as driver, and learned she had only had her Provisional drivers licence for a few weeks.
Later that morning, when we went to the school to collect Mehalis belongings and to tell them what had happened, multiple staff members ended up screaming in disbelief, with one even stating “I thought he was safe now” regarding his mother’s care of him.
Mehali had been removed from his mother’s care when he was merely one month old, and placed into his paternal grandparents care with his father residing with him at the family home. Child Protection Orders were put in place for several years, with Mehali staying with his grandparents until he was 4 years of age before he went through a “reunification process” to return to his mother’s care. At the time of Mehalis death, his Territory Families file was over 400 pages long. He was one of 3 children in his mother’s care and if each child has a file as big as his, there’s potentially a file out there with 1000+ pages, yet she was and still is, deemed a fit parent and continues to have full custody of her remaining two children. Mehalis family, his school, his mental health worker, his father’s friends and family and at times even his mother’s friends and own boyfriend had ALL reported their concerns regarding Andreas parenting to Territory Families but she again, was deemed fit and the children were not at risk.
Andreas drinking and drug abuse had been reported on multiple occasions throughout Mehalis life, and alcohol and drugs both played a part in his untimely death. Mehali should NOT have been in her care. Mehali was often sent to school in ripped clothing, with no food and hungry and without his medications. He was frequently sent to school sick or in pain, often having tooth infections from rotting teeth that she refused to treat even though his father offered to pay but due to work, he was unable to take him himself. Mehali was with his mother for 1 week, and his father the next, but during both weeks he would constantly receive phone calls due to Mehali being emotionally distressed and unmedicated. Andrea would not give his father access to the medications frequently, and this often resulted in emotional outbursts for the child. This is neglect on her part for withholding the medications. She was frequently admonished by the school for not supplying him with his prescribed medications, but most of the time the calls would go unanswered. We later were told by her own boyfriend who she now has a child too, that the calls were going unanswered because she was passed out on drugs. This was again reported to Territory Families.
Mehalis life was short and tragic from the start. He was failed by Territory Families during his life, and in death he has been failed by courts, with his mother being sentenced to 4 years and 2 months, SUSPENDED AFTER ONLY SERVING 12 MONTHS IN PRISON. Once she is released, she will have full care and custody again of her remaining two children. 12 months imprisonment for killing two people, and causing a lifetime of physical pain for a third, and for destroying three families is a gross injustice and an insult to the families involved AND our community.
Mehali Pastrikos has three siblings - two sisters and a brother. Mehali was the first born son of his father, and was named after his grandfather, Michael, as per family tradition. He was an avid lover of reptiles and fishing, frequently climbing trees to chase lizards, and had recently caught his first shark on a fishing trip with his dad. I’ve been told by his school that they still speak of him often and frequently shed tears over him. They have also planted a tree in the garden in his honour to help the other children at the school grieve.
Wade Williams was a father of threes sons, and he was also one of ten siblings. He loved camping, fishing and motorbike riding with his friends, and genuinely doing anything to ensure his family and friend's had smiles on their faces. He had only lived in Darwin for less than four months before the car crash after relocating here to build a future for his children. He had also just started a business with his brother who is now having to hold the business together on his own.
Miguel Pechay is a chef from the Philippines, who returned home after the crash so he could have his family support him. He unfortunately became stuck in the Philippines due to Covid-19 and is yet to return to Australia. He was uninsured at the time, and is still having to make monthly payments on his vehicle even though the crash was of no fault of his own. He has two children himself.
We write this petition today in hopes of having this sentence appealed, as 12months imprisonment for killing two people is, simply put, insulting and a gross injustice in itself. We have been told by officials the main reason only 12months was given was so she could resume care of her children, but those children are not safe with her. We also write this petition in hopes of Territory Families reviewing their decision deeming her abilities as a fit parent, and that Territory Families itself launches an investigation into their own practices regarding Fathers Rights as women are consistently having children handed over to them when it’s clear that a father and his family are better equipped to provide for the child/children involved. Passing parenting courses and a drug test should not be sufficient proof of a good parent, especially if the father himself also meets these requirements. Mothers are not always best. We also want Mandatory Reporting to actually be followed up on and encouraged further. The wait times and over all lack of response regarding Mandatory Reporting is why the children of the Northern Territory are suffering and falling between the cracks. Our systems are failing our children and its about time something is done.
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