Drink driver jailed over fatal crash

01:59, Jul 23 2014
Ashley Walsh
ASHLEY WALSH: "Ashley meant everything to me, she was my best mate, my only child, my only remaining family member," her father told the court.

A drink-driver who killed two of his friends has been sentenced to 21 months prison.

Joel Dylan Bowlin, 22, of Massey, was today jailed over the crash, which claimed the lives of his two passengers, Tye Gibbs, 19 and Ashley Walsh, 20 on August 24, last year.

Walsh's father Nicholas told a crowded Waitakere District Courtroom his daughter was a beautiful, loving young lady whose life had been "suddenly cut short because of one man's arrogance".

"Ashley meant everything to me, she was my best mate, my only child, my only remaining family member.

"We would have had Father's Day together, had she not died one day earlier."

Walsh and Gibbs both died at the scene of the crash when Bowlin rolled his van over a drain pipe and into a retaining post in Kumeu.

Bowlin escaped with minor injuries from the van that came to a rest upside down.

He had a blood alcohol reading of 113 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml - 33 mg above the legal limit.

More than 30 supporters of Bowlin filled the standing room section of the court during today's sentencing.

On the night of the crash Bowlin had been drinking at a bar in Albany for a friend's birthday before going home.

A number of friends, including Walsh and Gibbs, later visited his house, and he decided to drive Walsh and Gibbs about 2.30am.

He was attempting a right-hand bend when he lost control of the van along an 80kmh section of Old North Rd.

Bowlin's tyres were bald and Walsh, who had been in the front passenger seat, was not wearing a seatbelt.

The court heard Gibbs had his seatbelt secured but it made no difference to the outcome.

Judge John Bergseng said Bowlin made "some poor choices" on the night, which he would have to live with.

He said he accepted that Bowlin was a low risk of reoffending but he was not satisfied that home detention was a sufficient deterrent.

The court was told three of the four parents of the two victims did not accepted Bowlin's explanation that it was an accident.

Bergseng said the victim impact statements detailed the "devastation they continue to suffer as families".

"They find it difficult to put into words the grief they feel, which is not surprising."

Defence lawyer John Munro said Bowlin had shown remorse for his actions.

He said he was traumatised by the loss of two of his best friends and had since taken part in rehabilitation programmes, including Right Track.

"He's a mature young man who's learnt a lot."

Munro, who had argued for community-based detention, said he was still considering an appeal on the sentence.