A mother whose daughter and unborn grandson were killed in a car crash has called for proposed laws recognising pregnancies lost as a result of crime to be strengthened.

Katie Gleeson, 20, was 34 weeks pregnant with her second child Xavier when the car she was travelling in crashed in Inverell, northern NSW, last March.

Ms Gleeson died before she could be airlifted to hospital. Paramedics delivered her baby but he also died before making it to hospital.

Katie Gleeson pictured with her daughter Summer (left). Summer (right) looks at a picture of her mother in a locket.
Katie Gleeson pictured with her daughter Summer (left). Summer (right) looks at a picture of her mother in a locket. (Supplied: Dianne Marlow)

The 22-year-old female driver of the car Ms Gleeson was a passenger in was later charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, driving without a licence and driving an unregistered vehicle.

The court case is still ongoing.

However, under current NSW law, Xavier cannot be identified as a separate victim in the crash.

“Xavier is not going to get any justice over his death and my daughter would have wanted that. She wanted that baby so much,” Ms Gleeson’s mother Dianne Marlow told nine.com.au.

Last November, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Attorney-General Mark Speakman released the details of a draft bill which aims to address the lack of legislation regarding unborn children killed as a result of a crime.

Known as Zoe’s Law, it’s been the subject of debate for more than a decade.

Katie Gleeson with her daughter Summer.
Katie Gleeson with her daughter Summer. (Supplied: Dianne Marlow)
Central Coast mother Brodie Donegan spearheaded the campaign for law reform after her unborn daughter Zoe was killed in a 2009 car crash.

In Ms Donegan’s case, a woman smashed her van into her car while under the influence of drugs.

The period for public submissions on the draft bill closed on January 29.

Under the proposed legislation, offenders who commit a crime which leads to loss of a pregnancy will have three more years in jail added to their maximum sentence as an aggravating factor of the crime against the mother.

It will also allow the name of the unborn baby who died to be included in formal charges against the offender.

However, the draft bill stops short of proposing an unborn baby’s death be recognised as a separate criminal offence.

Ms Marlow said the death of any child, whether they were in utero or not, should be treated as an individual offence.

“If someone causes an accident which takes a child’s life, that’s not an accident, that is causing a death to a child. Even if that baby is in their mother’s belly it’s still a child,” she said.

“Katie was 32 weeks pregnant and Xavier, he would have survived if they (the paramedics) had gotten to him sooner. But he drowned in her blood because of that accident.

“That little boy should be here. He should be running around my house with his mum.”

Ms Gleeson’s family have started an online petition calling for the proposed Zoe’s Law draft to be strengthened.

Mr Speakman said the loss of an unborn child because of a criminal act was “a tragedy worthy of recognition in the law”.

“The NSW Government is grateful for the views of those who’ve had their say on an exposure draft of proposed new laws to better recognise this loss,” he said.

“The Government is seriously considering the submissions that have been received as it finalises the proposed legislation.”

Tragedy also prompts calls for change in Queensland

The push for unborn children to be named as separate victims of crime has also been renewed in Queensland after mum-to-be Katherine Leadbetter and her partner Matthew Field were killed in a fatal crash in Alexandra Hills, near Brisbane, on Australia Day.

Ms Leadbetter was pregnant with the couple’s first baby, Miles, who also died.

Matthew Field and Kate Leadbetter were killed in a hit-and-run accident in Alexandra Hills on Australia Day.
Matthew Field and Kate Leadbetter were killed in a hit-and-run accident in Alexandra Hills on Australia Day. (Supplied)

A 17-year-old boy was charged with a raft of offences including murder and burglary.

It would be presented as an aggravating element of the murder charge relating to death of his mother.

Ms Marlow said hearing about the Queensland case had broken her heart.

“There are so many babies out there that deserve justice. The law needs to be changed because it’s not right.”

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at emcpherson@nine.com.au.



This content first appear on 9news

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