Stubbs: People have judged me harshly

BY CHERIE HOWIE
Last updated 12:00 26/08/2010
Frances Stubbs
Frances Stubbs

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A drunk-driver who killed a Blenheim grandmother when she crashed into her vehicle after speeding off from a police checkpoint says she has been judged "quite harshly" by the public.

Blenheim woman Frances Stubbs made the comment during an interview on TV3 current affairs show Campbell Live last night.

Stubbs, 20, killed 51-year-old Penelope Phillips when she crashed into her vehicle at the roundabout intersection of Nelson and Hutcheson streets in Blenheim in March. She was sentenced last week to eight months' home detention, 160 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for 3 1/2years for drunk-driving causing death.

Stubbs has declined numerous interview requests from The Marlborough Express but during a pre-recorded interview screened on Campbell Live last night said she had received amazing support from friends and family.

However, the public reaction had been different. She had been judged harshly, but had expected that, she said.

"People tend to look at the crime, not the person."

Asked if she understood she had done something stupid, foolish and selfish, Stubbs said she did.

She had expected to go to jail.

"I did do a really stupid, selfish thing, but it was a mistake. I'm going to try and make something good come from it, and I'm going to learn from it and hopefully become a better person from it."

Stubbs said she thought everything would be fine when she made the decision to drive to a party after drinking four RTDs [ready-to-drink alcohol mixes].

"I thought ... I would just do it the one time and it would be fine."
She could not say what went through her mind when she failed the breath test and sped away from police. "I just put my foot down and ran away basically ... I just tried to go as fast as I could to get away from the police."

She did not know her speed but said she was going "pretty fast".
The moment in hospital when her father told her Mrs Phillips had died was "probably the worst" of her life, she said.

The support of her family and friends had got her through. The compassion from some of Mrs Phillips' children when she apologised to them during a restorative justice meeting had also helped, she said.

"It's hard to say the right words, but I just said what I felt in my heart. I hoped they would understand that."

Mrs Phillips' son, Stuart McKenzie, had suggested the pair team up to speak at schools about the consequences of drink-driving.

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It was a good idea, Stubbs said."So much pain and hurt has come out of this. I want something good to come out of it. Even if just helps one person it would be worth it."

Mr McKenzie told the Express he would make sure the school visits went ahead. They would approach intermediate and secondary schools in Marlborough and Nelson, but it was too early to say when. His mum would have approved, he said.

"She was a very forgiving person. I think she'd be very proud of me for trying to move on and make some good out of it.'

- The Marlborough Express

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