DENISE Walzer wiped away tears as she watched the man responsible for the death of her only child being sentenced in the Melbourne County Court yesterday.
Flanked by her husband Ferdinand and sister Janet Brady, Mrs Walzer watched the court proceedings via a videolink in a room at the Bridge St campus of the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE.
Via the videolink, she could see in the Melbourne court public gallery her son Michael McMahon's fiance Rhiannon Beckwith and a cousin with whom she exchanged an on-screen wave and, seated at the back in the court dock, her son's killer Jason Paul Pasznyk, 42.
Mr McMahon, 38, had been returning to work in Geelong from his home in Deniliquin, NSW, on May 17, 2010, when a drunk and speeding Pasznyk smashed into the back of his car on a street in the Melbourne suburb of Melton.
Police crash site investigators estimated Pasznyk had been driving at between 120 and 130kmh when he crashed into Mr McMahon's car about 8.45pm. Sentencing Judge Gerard Mullaly described the speed as "almost homicidal".
Pasznyk told police he had been drinking bourbon since 4.30pm that day and returned a breath/alcohol reading of 0.203.
Mr McMahon's fuel tank exploded on impact and the car was engulfed in flames. He died at the scene.
"His whole life was coming together beautifully for him at the time," Mrs Walzer said of her son.
"He was about to give up the land forming work he was doing because it was taking him too far away from his family and he was about to start a new business.
"He and Rhiannon were about to get married; she had the wedding dress but was waiting on the shoes.
"Michael always laughed about the shoes. He'd say, 'You women and shoes'."
At the time of Mr McMahon's death the happy couple had a daughter Dakota and Ms Beckwith was pregnant with their son Corben.
"Corben will never know his father," Mrs Walzer sighed.
"He was born the day after his father's funeral."
Mr McMahon had a love of motor vehicles and worked for a time in Toowoomba at an engineering works and a windscreen fitting shop in Dent St before taking an earthmoving job in the Lockyer Valley.
Pasznyk pleaded guilty to culpable driving.
Judge Mullaly noted Pasznyk had lengthy criminal and traffic records and described him as "a recidivist offender and a serious public menace on our roads".
He sentenced Pasznyk to 10 1/2 years jail with a non-parole period of eight years.
Mrs Walzer took some comfort from the lengthy jail sentence.
"Whether it was 12 months or 20 years it won't bring Michael back, but it will stop him (Pasznyk) from killing anyone else," she said.
"At least the community is safe while he's in jail."
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