A Queensland woman's opportunity to confront the drunk driver who killed both her wife and oldest friend has almost been taken from her after COVID-19 restrictions and tech issues in a Sydney court.
Kim Alden and 22-year-old offender Tyron Knodler both appeared via video link in Downing Centre District Court on Thursday due to restrictions over the novel coronavirus.
Dozens of the victims' family members were also prevented from attending the sentence hearing, where Ms Alden gave a statement about the impact of the fatal crash on March 12, 2019, in suburban Sydney.
Knodler was drunk and unlicensed when he crashed a stolen four-wheel drive into a small hatchback driven by Gold Coast woman Carol Chambers.
Ms Chambers, 66 and Sydney school teacher Gayle Gibson, 62, died instantly, while those on the car's left-hand side - Ms Alden and Ms Gibson's husband Tony Giorgio - survived.
Knodler sprinted from the scene and was arrested outside a nearby home. He later pleaded guilty to more than 10 charges.
Thursday's hearing was delayed on several occasions due to issues with the audio-visual links to Ms Alden and Knodler.
Background noise from the prison where Knodler was held and a vacant court overflow room left Ms Alden unable to be heard at times.
Judge Antony Townsden and lawyers set about rectifying the issue by cutting the link to Knodler and having Ms Alden continue - something rejected only at her insistence.
"This has all been pretty hard to start with," she told the judge.
"Now, the defendant is not physically there, the 30 people who were intending to be there are not there and then the defendant does not even get to hear me?
"My victim impact statement is a direct address to him.
"I know the circumstances are out of everyone's control ... but he needs to hear me."
The judge noted the tech issues were "most unsatisfactory" and "if anything" causing greater distress.
After a break to rectify the problems, Ms Alden told Knodler she sometimes wishes she'd died alongside her wife so Ms Gibson and Mr Giorgio could live out their days together.
"(After the crash) I could hear Tony wailing. Not crying. Wailing. Not sobbing. Wailing. It's a sound I never want to hear again," Ms Alden said.
"I wish I could have died. It would be over and finished."
She said her life had lost all meaning now Ms Chambers - her "partner, best friend, lover, confidant and supporter for over 30 years" - was gone.
After 40 years of full-time work, the fit and healthy couple were days away from a holiday to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
"Now she's dead," Ms Alden said.
"For no good reason or purpose. From no illness or accident. But from the deliberate decisions of the defendant."
Ms Alden and Ms Gibson grew up on the same street and remained close friends over the subsequent decades.
"(He) killed the friend I could be brutally honest with, but who I never feared would judge or discard me," Ms Alden said.
"(Now) there is no one whose approval I seek, whose opinion I care about. They were both killed."
Ms Alden still suffers the effects of severe concussion and requires weekly counselling, the court heard.
Ms Gibson was described as a "more fun, less restrictive" second mother to her sister Margaret's children and someone who kept a close relationship with them through to adulthood.
"She was a sounding board, told them the hard truths and encouraged them to live their lives the best ways," Margaret Colin said in a written statement.
"I often have this need to phone her to discuss something.
"Death is not what you see on TV ... it's real, final and permanent."
Knodler will be sentenced on May 1.
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Australian Associated Press