Family struggles to forgive killer driver
Shane Bailey stood over his friend's lifeless body and swore ''on his life'' he was not the driver who killed him.
The family of Daryl Gallagher, who died instantly in a crash last August, gave him the benefit of the doubt and allowed him to attend the funeral.
But as the police investigation into the incident progressed it became clear Bailey, 27, was behind the wheel.
The denials eventually subsided when, in the face of overwhelming evidence, he pleaded guilty to charges of drink driving causing death, drink driving causing injury and driving while disqualified for the eighth time.
At Bailey's sentencing at Pukekohe District Court this month, Daryl Gallagher's mum Tania and his partner Courtney Fell stared at the man in the dock and told him there was no absolution.
''There's no forgiveness for the lies you've told...we'll never forgive you,'' Tania Gallagher said.
Bailey and Daryl Gallagher - who had been friends for more than 10 years - had spent the morning of August 21 fishing, which led to an afternoon of drinking.
When the booze and smokes ran out, the pair, along with Annalise Campbell, ventured out to replenish supplies.
Bailey attempted to get behind the wheel but was dissuaded by others.
Campbell drove to the shop to get cigarettes but when they returned to the car, Bailey got in the driver's seat for the trip to the liquor store.
While trying to negotiate a corner on Ray Wright Rd in Pukekohe at nearly 130kmh he lost control of the Subaru and slammed into a power pole.
Daryl Gallagher died instantly from neck injuries.
Blood tests immediately afterwards showed Bailey was more than twice over the legal limit and in court his driving history, which his lawyer admitted ''could only be described as terrible'', was detailed.
Before the incident he had racked up 15 charges - including failing to stop for police three times and careless driving causing injury - and amassed more than $22,000 in fines.
Crown prosecutor Sarah Simmers asked for a final sentence of nearly five years, citing the aggravating factors of Bailey being on bail at the time and serving a sentence of community work for prior offending.
Judge Josephine Bouchier took a more lenient stance, uplifting his sentence by six months for his poor record, ending with a final jail term of three years three months.
A few days after sentencing, Tania Gallagher said the family had struggled to come to terms with the result.
''Everyone's pissed off,'' she said.
But the pain of the last 10 months had cut much deeper.
Daryl Gallagher's dad Clint had to drive past the crash site twice a day to and from work.
''It's eating him alive,'' Tania said.
She too was struggling to cope. Most days she still texted her son, just like she always had.
But he would never again reply with the cheeky messages he used to.
Not only was he the middle child of five but he was at the centre of the family - their ''pivot point'', Tania said.
Now his sister's overdue library fines are piling up as her daughter refused to return the books Uncle Daryl was supposed to read to her.
It was not the first time Tania Gallagher had lost a family member in tragic circumstances.
In 1975 her 14-year-old brother Vaughan Ripia was stabbed to death on the streets of Pukekohe by a 16-year-old boy.
The resulting trial, which garnered significant public attention, saw the boy acquitted of murder as a jury decided he acted in self defence.
But for Tania Gallagher, there was no comparison to losing her son.
''He was my baby, my pet,'' she said.
''He was just a loveable bugger.''