'Horror' as killer driver in another crash

Last updated 05:00 22/08/2012

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The driver who killed a young woman while on a witness-protection programme is heading back to jail after being involved in a crash in Hawke's Bay.

Jonathon Barclay, now 31, killed Debbie Ashton, 20, in a crash near Nelson in December 2006. Just a month earlier, he could have been jailed for a repeat driving offence, but was treated as a first-time offender because the court did not know he was using a new identity.

He was jailed for 5 years for the manslaughter of Ms Ashton, and was freed from prison in April last year.

He assumed yet another name, Jordan Ubertek, when he was freed, and moved to Hawke's Bay. Last week his BMW collided with a truck while he was apparently attempting a U-turn on the Hawke's Bay expressway.

He and a 3-year-old, who was flung from the car, were both admitted to hospital; a woman and a 1-year-old in Barclay's car suffered minor injuries.

Barclay was discharged from Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital yesterday, and recalled to prison after the Parole Board issued an interim order on Friday.

The Corrections Department would not comment on why he was being recalled. It said he was in secure custody and was being transferred to prison.

The 3-year-old has also been discharged from hospital.

Judy Ashton, Debbie's mother, was "absolutely horrified" to hear that Barclay had been involved in another crash.

"My heart just went out to that poor little child," she said. "It's re-victimised me and my whole family because again he's offended while on parole."

After Miss Ashton's death, it was revealed that Barclay had been given a new identity under the police witness protection programme.

A month before the fatal accident, he avoided jail on a drink-driving charge because his past - which included burglary, dishonesty and other serious driving convictions - was withheld from the court.

It was not told he was using a new identity, or that he was on parole, or had recent driving convictions. Instead he was treated as a first-time offender, fined $500 and disqualified from driving.

A full ministerial report later found a series of “individual errors and systems failures” allowed Barclay to be driving when he should not have been.

Yesterday Mrs Ashton said she wanted the law changed so repeat offenders such as Barclay could never drive again. "I don't give a damn about Barclay, it's to get the system changed so people don't have to go through what we did.

"Nothing is going to bring Debbie back but, if I can use what happened to her to help other people, it's one way of making something good come out of Debbie's death."

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Shane Cassidy, the driver of the truck involved in last week's crash, said of Barclay: "I don't know what he was doing. He was going off the off-ramp but must've wanted to go the other way.

"He was definitely doing a U-ey. He turned and it was all over.”

Mr Cassidy was unhurt.

Police would not comment while the case was still being investigated.


According to Parole Board reports, Barclay spent his time in prison working in the library and screen-printing workshop, and undertook computer studies.

He was freed on parole on April 15 last year and his status under the police witness protection scheme was due to cease the day he was freed.

In a monitoring report in March this year, the board found he had been compliant with residential restrictions and other conditions imposed on him.

He obtained his restricted driver's licence in February and was undergoing a defensive driving course that would have made him eligible to gain a full licence in June.

Barclay told the board he wanted a full licence so that family members were not needed to drive him to places. He said he had been initially nervous about driving but was driving around 300 kilometres a week to and from study.

The board imposed conditions, including requiring him to drive only between 7am and 7pm and to complete the defensive driving course.

Police would not say this week whether Barclay now held a full driver's licence.

- The Dominion Post

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