The mother of 14-year-old Elijah Doughty, the Western Australian child who died in Kalgoorlie in 2016 after being struck by a ute, has broken her silence on the death of her son and her wishes for the community going forward.
Speaking to the ABC's '7.30' on Thursday Petrina James said the passing of her son, which occurred after he was struck by the vehicle while allegedly riding a stolen motorbike, has affected her deeply as a person.
"It's affected me a lot. Yeah, I'm a better person now," she said.
"[I'm] not how I used to be, taking life for granted, I didn't really spend much time with my kids. I don't do things like I used to do. In a lot of ways.
"Getting into trouble with the law, going out drinking and that. I don't do that any more."
— abc730 (@abc730) July 27, 2017
While the death of the Indigenous teenager sparked major riots and protests in Kalgoorlie last year, James received the news about her son while she was in prison.
"It was lock-down and I got called, taken out of my cell, and walked up to one of the rooms and I was asked to sit down and they told me," she said.
"They told me my son had passed away. I fainted.
"Of course there is a lot of guilt. I wasn't there to protect him. I wasn't there to say goodbye."
And while she acknowledged she wants justice for her son's death, she also told '7.30' that the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities of Kalgoorlie and Western Australia need to unite.
"I want the man that's killed my son to get what he deserves, a proper sentence," she said.
"I think everybody should come together, not just Aboriginal people."
James' comments come after angry crowds were seen gathered in the streets of Perth and Kalgoorlie on Friday after the 56-year-old man who was driving the ute on the night of the incident was found not guilty of the manslaughter of Elijah.
The manslaughter charge handed down to the 56-year-old sparked a series of violent protests and racially charged abuse in the town, which remains deeply divided.
On Friday however, the Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth found the accused not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death following a four-day trial and more than six hours of jury deliberation.
The verdict handed down to the man carries a three-year prison sentence -- considerably less than the maximum possible manslaughter sentence of life in jail -- with parole possible in February due to the man being remanded in custody since August 2016.
Grief is the word to describe the atmosphere here in Kalgoorlie at the moment - people in the crowd deeply upset by this outcome. pic.twitter.com/ZAqXWgmbpO— Sam Tomlin (@SamTomlin539) July 21, 2017