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Community reacts as Buxton driver Tyrell Edwards, who killed five teenagers in crash, is sentenced

Community reacts as Buxton driver Tyrell Edwards, who killed five teenagers in crash, is sentenced
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A heartbroken southwest Sydney community has shared emotional reactions to the sentencing of a driver who killed five teenagers in a fiery crash last year.

Tyrell Edwards, 20, will face at least seven years behind bars after being sentenced in the NSW District Court in Campbelltown on Friday.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Driver jailed over crash that killed five teens.

Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>

He was behind the wheel when five teenagers — Lily Van De Putte, Gabby McLennan, Summer Williams, all aged 14, Tyrese Bechard, 15, and Antonio Desisto, 16 — died in the crash on East Pde, Buxton, on September 6, 2022.

The speeding Nissan Navara crashed into two trees and split into pieces.

The Buxton community was torn apart along with it.

P-plater Edwards, the sole survivor of the crash, earlier this year pleaded guilty to five counts of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death.

Judge Christopher O’Brien on Friday sentenced Edwards to 12 years in prison, with a non-parole period of seven years.

Outside court, Lily’s father John Van De Putte said he can “never forgive” Edwards but “does have sympathy for what he is going through”.

“Some people want him dead, other people don’t … I can see both sides,” he said.

“I’ve lost my daughter … she’s not coming back, so we just have to change the legislation to make it more punishable for minor offences so it doesn’t come to this.”

John Van De Putte (left), the father of Lily Van De Putte, arrives with family and friends for the sentencing of Tyrell Edwards. Credit: Dean Lewins/AAPExaven Desisto slammed the sentence. Credit: Dean Lewins/AAP

Van De Putte said he believes the seven-year sentence is “very low”.

“You’d get more if you killed someone with a baseball bat,” he said.

“And that’s where that legislation needs to be changed.

“We need to treat the vehicle like a weapon, just because you kill someone in a vehicle doesn’t make the crime any less.”

Van De Putte added he feels a lot of empathy for Edwards’ family.

“They weren’t the ones driving the vehicle … it was him … he was doing it, and he needs to be held responsible for it,” he said.

“But, no, seven years does not make him responsible for the crime he has done.”

Antonio Desisto’s father, Exaven Desisto, described the sentence as “absolutely disgusting”.

“So, if he’s eligible for parole in seven years, that’s 18 months per child,” he said outside court.

“Is that what a child’s life is worth — 18 months?

Tyrell Edwards has been jailed over the fatal Buxton car crash. Credit: SuppliedThe victims were Lily Van De Putte, Antonio Desisto, Summer Williams, Tyrese Bechard and Gabby McLennan. Credit: Supplied

“It doesn’t give us closure because it doesn’t matter how much time he gets, we’re the ones who get the life sentence now.”

Desisto described his son as “incredible”.

“He was my best friend and I miss him,” he said.

“I love him and we’re never going to see him again.

“It’s just disgusting … agony … that’s all I can say.

“I don’t wish this on any parent.”

In court, O’Brien said Edwards had caused “indescribable grief to the victim’s families and the community more broadly”.

“The loss of these five young people diminishes us all,” he said.

In his sentencing, O’Brien told the court, on September 6, 2022 Edwards “abandoned all responsibility as a road user”.

“Cases of this kind are a tragedy,” he said.

“It is a tragedy for the victims’ families as well as for the offenders themselves and their families.

“And this is a tragedy which could have easily been nullified …. and it is fortunate further tragedy did not eventuate.”

In a statement to the court, Edwards said he is “so sorry by the pain and loss” he has caused.

“I wish I could take it all back and have my friends back,” he said.

“I know that my sorry won’t change anything, and it will bring no comfort to all those affected.

“And I know that serving a sentence won’t be good enough for what has been done.”

Edwards has been in custody for more than four months, since he pleaded guilty to the charges in August.

Edwards will be eligible for parole on July 11, 2030.

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