A ‘vigilante’ Queensland man who struck and killed an aspiring police officer in a horror crash will remain behind bars and never be allowed to hold a driver’s licence again.
Christopher Michael Hughes was chasing down a stolen vehicle when his car struck Jennifer Board, 22, on February 5, 2021. She died at the scene, sparking community shock and anger.
The court heard Hughes’ Holden Statesman was travelling between 120 and 130km/h in a 60km/h zone on Ross River Road near Weir State School in Townsville.
He had been trying to ram a stolen Hyundai ix35 he believed his cousin was driving.
Hughes, then 25, ended up rear-ending the Hyundai, sending his car flying into oncoming traffic where it collided with Ms Board, who was riding a motorcycle travelling the opposite direction.
Hughes was initially charged with murder which was downgraded to manslaughter after he indicated he would plead guilty to the lesser charge.
Jennifer Board (above) was killed at 22-years-old in a horror car-motorcycle crash in Townsville, north Queensland
Christopher Michael Hughes (above) crashed into Ms Board’s motorcycle while travelling at twice the speed limit in an attempt to ram another stolen vehicle off the road
On Friday, Hughes was sentenced to 12 years in jail and will never be allowed to hold a drivers’ licence again, the Townsville Bulletin reported.
Bail documents from court proceedings revealed Hughes was known in the community as a ‘habitual vigilante’ whose ‘sole focus in life’ was tracking down car thieves.
On the night of Ms Board’s death, his two passengers were livestreaming the Hyundai chase on a local Facebook page. Neither passenger was charged in relation to the crash.
Justice Martin Burns told the court he doesn’t believe Hughes’ intentions aligned with those of a ‘vigilante’.
‘I cannot agree with the description of this as vigilante behaviour. My understanding of vigilantism is someone acting out of a sense of injustice, this wasn’t that,’ he said.
‘He was engaged in this for the thrill of the chase, and for the amusement of the group. That is what makes this so serious.’
The court heard Jennifer Board (pictured with her bike) was an avid motorcyclist
The court heard Christoher Hughes rear-ended the Hyundai, sending his car flying into oncoming traffic where it collided with Ms Board, who was riding a motorcycle travelling the opposite direction. Pictured is Ms Board’s motorcycle after the crash
Ms Board was a beloved member of a tight-knit family who enjoyed holidaying in Peru together and always met for Sunday dinners.
The 22-year-old had just sat her police admittance exam and was over the moon about her newly bought motorcycle.
The court heard from Ms Board’s devastated older sister, Siana Board, who delivered a powerful and detailed 1327-word victim impact statement which addressed the man who took Jennifer’s life away.
‘Christopher Hughes, the weight of your name bears the pain of a life cut short and the heartache that will live forever,’ her statement began.
‘Today, I stand before you to ensure that Jennifer’s memory lives on, not overshadowed by the darkness you created. She is more than what you did to her.
‘While she may no longer be here, I am, and I am a constant reminder of the life that was stolen from her. There are days when I struggle to find gratitude in the fact that I still breathe when Jen does not.
‘I cannot help but compare her goodness to your heartless cruelty that took her from this world.
Sina alsi addressed Hughes ‘vigilante actions;
‘In her last moments, she faced brutality … you claim to be an enforcer of justice Chris Hughes, but your actions were anything but just,’ she said.
‘Our community does not need more people like you, who bring pain.’
Siana said motorcycling was a big part of her sister’s life and revealed she still receives monthly notifications for her bike insurance from their synced calendar.
‘A joy that would get her killed,’ she said of the motorcycle.
‘Every article in the media sends me into a pit of despair, the mere mention of her name, a picture, is a constant trigger of pain … her pictures, they get older.’
Ms Board (above) had only recently bought the motorbike and had just taken her police admittance exam when her life was cut short
Ms Board’solder sister, Siana (pictured left with her sister) still receives notifications about her sister’s motorbike insurance renewal from their synced calander
The court heard Hughes had a very different upbringing to the one Ms Board enjoyed.
Hughes had a troubled family life where both his parents struggling with severe drug addiction and his father killed in a head-on collision with a truck.
He was raised by his grandparents.
It’s believed Hughes’ strained family dynamics were a factor in the fatal car chase with Hughes saying he wanted to ‘get’ his cousin in the stolen Hyundai.
When he killed Ms Board at 25 years old, Hughes had already accumulated a long list of traffic offences and had been suspended or disqualified from driving 10 times since 2012.
He has already spent 998 days behind bars after his arrest on February 8, 2021 – three days after the fatal crash.
In court, a remorseful Hughes read out a apology to Ms Board’s family.
The court heard Hughes (above) has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the crash and suffers abuse from inmates
Following Ms Board’s (above) death, Queensland introduced new laws to keep repeat serious youth offenders incarcerated
‘To the family and friends of Ms Board, firstly I would like to send my heartfelt condolences for the loss of Ms Board. I couldn’t imagine the pain you must all be feeling, but from the bottom of my heart I am sincerely sorry,’ he said.
‘I know there will always be anger, hatred and disrespect towards me and I will always accept that as my stupid decisions took the life of your beautiful daughter.
‘I would like you all to know it wasn’t my intention to go out and hurt anyone that night, my reckless driving was to blame, I’ve taken full responsibility for my actions and will accept whatever punishment I may get.
‘Once again, I am so very sorry for your loss and I really hope this can give you some form of closure.’
Hughes’ lawyer, Frank Richards, told the court his client was suffering in custody and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the crash.
‘His time in custody has been relatively difficult, he’s been subject to a number of assaults and threats,’ he said.
‘That’s in context of prisoners who are aware of [the crash] in North Queensland, largely due to the news reporting, be it correct or incorrect.’
Ms Board’s tragic death sparked a statewide outcry for stricter youth crime laws.
Queensland revised its youth crime laws following Ms Board’s death and those of Matthew Field, Katherine Leadbetter and their 24-week-old unborn baby killed days earlier on Australia Day in 2021.
The laws include a presumption against bail for repeat youth offenders and the use of ankle bracelets for some offenders.
Read Siana Board’s full victim impact statement
Christopher Hughes, the weight of your name bears the pain of a life cut short and the heartache that will live forever. Today, I stand before you to ensure that Jennifer’s memory lives on, not overshadowed by the darkness you created. She is more than what you did to her.
This crime is a tragedy of your own making, Christopher Hughes. Or should I call you Chris? While she may no longer be here, I am, and I am a constant reminder of the life that was stolen from her. There are days when I struggle to find gratitude in the fact that I still breathe when Jen does not. I cannot help but compare her goodness to your heartless cruelty that took her from this world. She was a better person than most of us, her kindness and compassion in a world of darkness. Her light shone so bright.
Since her death the light that once was so bright inside me has not only dimmed but has completely turned off. I was robbed. I am no longer a big sister, I am no longer a best friend, I have lost a bond that was formed over a lifetime. Little did I know that lifetime would only last 22 years.
The whole reason I’m standing here is to share the impact this crime has had on me, and it’s more than just a life taken. It’s my life, and it’s the lives that Jennifer will never get to live. I will never get to see “Aunty Jennifer,” “40-year-old Jennifer,” “Mrs. Jennifer.” These titles were stolen from her, from me, from her family, her friends.
The dreams we shared, the adventures we planned, all killed by the heartlessness of a single moment in time, decided by you.
I can’t expect you to truly understand how I’m feeling, to have to walk down the aisle without your life-long friend, your soul mate. Jennifer was more than just a sister; she was my confidant, my partner in every adventure, my source of strength. Each life’s milestone comes and goes, her pictures grow older and the lines on my face become deeper. They serve as a constant reminder of the dreams and shared experiences that will forever remain unfulfilled.
My life has forever changed, and I am an empty shell of who I once was. How could this not impact me? The void left by Jennifer’s absence is immeasurable. The pain is not just a temporary wound that time will heal; it’s a permanent scar etched into my existence. I will carry this pain and this loss with me for the rest of my life.
Christopher Hughes, your actions have robbed me of the person I used to be, and I now carry a burden of grief that may never lift. The ripple effect of your crime extends far beyond the moment it occurred, affecting every facet of my life, every emotion I feel, and every decision I make.
The light in my world has dimmed, and the joy that once fueled my days has been replaced with a deep sadness that never seems to fade. The simple pleasures of life have lost their luster, and even the most mundane tasks now feel insurmountable.
I was Jennifer’s closest person, our lives intertwined within each other. Our calendars still synced, a cruel reminder of her absence. The 7th of every month ‘Bike Insurance’ pops up, a stark contrast to the joy it once brought her. A joy that would get her killed.
Every article in the media sends me into a pit of despair. The mere mention of her name, a picture, a constant trigger of pain, a painful reminder of a future that will never be. Her death left me unable to drive on the same roads for months, as the memories of that fateful day haunted me.
The town which I once called home, littered with the hurt, the memories ripped from me. What was once a place of comfort and belonging has transformed into a landscape of pain and heartache.
Songs that once brought me joy are now bittersweet, their melodies tainted by the memories of times we shared together. The pain has not only affected me but has driven a wedge within my family, especially my father, who we struggle to bear the thought of her name.
The pain extends beyond my family; I have no connection. No one can compare to Jen, and the friendship we shared. What’s the point when I have lost the most important one of my life?
Learning how to live without Jen has been a devastating challenge. There is nowhere to go and no one to speak to when I’m upset, mad, or just want to talk. For nearly 22 years of my life, we spoke every day, and the adjustment to a life without her has been unbearable.
The impact of this crime goes far beyond Jennifer’s life; it extends to every aspect of mine, forever altered by a cruel act. Christopher Hughes, you have left a void that can never be filled, and a pain that may never subside.
Her face now haunts my mind with horrifying scenes of what happened. I cannot escape the images of her last moments, the terror she must have felt, and the pain she endured. I can’t remember any memories without seeing these images. Even the most cherished moments we shared are tainted by the relentless intrusion of those horrifying scenes. It’s as though I’m trapped in a nightmare from which I can never wake from. These images have now become a part of my life, an unwelcome companion in every thought. My mind scarred with the ceaseless replay of the horrors she experienced.
Jen’s death was not a peaceful passing, nor a tragic accident. It was a brutal, horrifying act that haunts my thoughts and my dreams. I can’t sleep without reliving them every time I close my eyes. The torment she endured in those last moments is a burden that I bear and a pain that never fades. One that you have forced me to carry into each night and each day.
There was no kindness in her death, there is no comfort to be had, there is no consoling thought in the way Jennifer died. In her last moments she faced brutality, terror, mutilation and she was all alone. And you saw.
I hope her last moments are forever engrained into your soul, like they are mine.
The pain from those last moments plays again, and again in my mind. I’m plagued by questions: Did she suffer? Did she ask for me? Why wasn’t I there to protect her? From you.
These questions torture me, and I can’t escape this grief that I feel everyday. When I received a call asking where Jen was, I knew. I knew deep in my soul she was gone. I couldn’t imagine a life worth living without her, what is the Board sisters without the sister. I tortured myself, I can’t bear to think of her.
Happiness feels like a distant memory, and joy seems unattainable. How could I ever be the same, every memory I have of her is now convoluted with the thought of you.
You claim to be an enforcer of justice Chris, but your actions were anything but just. I don’t think I could think of anyone so inadequate. Not only did you fail, but you also robbed the community of a bright and caring soul who had so much more to give. I cannot forgive someone so cruel, so disgusting and so heartless. You repulse me.
Jennifer Margaret Board should be here today, contributing to our community in ways you could never. Instead, her life was cut short, her potential stolen from her. All because of a choice you made. Our community does not need more people like you, who bring pain rather than justice, they needed Jennifer.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk