'Wet towel of a sentence' says father

17:00, Sep 24 2009
connon
CRASH MUM: Wendy-May Connon had a crutch and a teddy bear for support in the dock during sentencing.

A woman who avoided a jail term for the manslaughter of her four-year-old son in a car crash broke into her former home and took the boy's ashes, a court has been told.

The boy's father, Scott Truger, said in his victim impact statement read in the High Court at Wellington yesterday that the ashes of Konrad Truger, photographs and other memorabilia were taken.

Later he told The Dominion Post that a shrine to Konrad was desecrated. Police recovered Konrad's ashes and photographs from Konrad's mother, Wendy-May Connon, who has since been found guilty of Konrad's manslaughter.

Mr Truger said police told him she was not charged with burglary because the Featherston house was her matrimonial home.

"I don't hate her but I hate what she has done and how she has behaved throughout this," Mr Truger said.

Her lack of remorse was detrimental to the healing process, he said.

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Connon, 40, was sentenced yesterday to six months' community detention, two years' intensive supervision, 200 hours' community work on road safety and child welfare projects if possible and disqualified from driving for two years.

Konrad had only a lap seatbelt while a dog sat in a position where there was a diagonal belt in his mother's speeding car on a South Wairarapa road on January 16 last year.

When Connon lost control, she and Konrad were thrown from the car. Connon and two children survived but Konrad died three days later.

Connon was in hospital for more than a month with severe and lasting injuries. She and Mr Truger separated after her release.

Mr Truger, 36, said he would not forget Connon's smile after being sentenced. "She has just been sentenced for killing her own son and she's smiling. I think I will struggle with that for some time to come."

He said he had to trust the objective opinion of the judge but was disappointed with the sentence and could not relate it to his son's death.

"My son's death has been accounted for today but my opinion, it is a wet towel of a sentence and does not send a good message to society."

The judge should have taken into account Connon's use of cannabis before driving but instead Justice Joe Williams said there was no evidence of its likely effect.

Failure to put Konrad in a proper restraint and speed caused the death, the judge found. The older two children in the car who cannot be identified for legal reasons warned her about the belt and her speed, but she ignored them.

The judge said Connon had thoughts of suicide since the accident. Killing her own child was worse than any sentence he could impose.

"You have sentenced yourself to a lifetime of guilt, shame and pain. I don't mean to be harsh in the circumstances but it is a sentence you well deserve."

Connon left court with family. Her lawyer said she would not comment.

The Dominion Post