Drink-driver to pay for 'catastrophic' mistake

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 15:13 29/11/2013

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A drink-driver who caused the death of an Auckland mother will pay $50,000 towards her daughters' upbringing as reparation for his "catastrophic" mistake.

In the Waitakere District Court today Blair Alick McMillan was sentenced to four years jail today over the death of Rebecca Todd and the injuries to her two daughters.

The children's father told how the girls, aged 6 and 7, were still suffering the effects of the accident where their mother was killed and they were hurt on December 21 last year.

The younger child has brain damage and a severe leg injury, while the older daughter has to live with the memory of watching her mother die, Richard Todd said.

"We are so grateful that both girls came out of this alive. But Caitlin is not the same ... and Brooke realises her sister is different," Todd said in a statement read by his mother to the court.

"Brooke is trying to re-establish their relationship ... as well as dealing with watching her mother die in front of her eyes."

Rebecca Todd, a TV3 worker, died when her car and McMillan's collided at the intersection of Hamilton Rd and Muriwai Rd, west of Auckland.

Caitlin was thrown through the windscreen, landing 20 metres away under a bush. Brooke was left inside the car but later became unconscious. Todd, 39, died at the scene. One of the family dogs was also killed. McMillan, 56, was also injured.

McMillan was found to be twice the legal limit for blood alcohol. He was charged with one count of driving with excess blood alcohol causing deaths, and two counts of driving with excess blood alcohol causing injuries.

His lawyer Peter Winter told the court McMillan had been drinking at an impromptu work Christmas party at his panel beating business. He then went to a work meeting at a bar and drank more beer, before driving home.

"He accepts that he misjudged the situation very badly and the consequences have been catastrophic," Winter said.

He read a statement from McMillan which said: "I go to sleep every night reflecting on what I have done. My first thoughts in the morning are of remorse, shame and sadness.

"I will feel the burden of what I have done for as long as I live."

McMillan offered to pay $20,000 into a fund to help care for the girls, as well as $600 per month for five years. He acknowledged it would not bring their mother back, but wanted to help. The family had accepted the money, the court heard.

The court heard from both Todd's husband and her sister, through victim impact statements.

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Richard Todd asked Judge Lisa Tremewan to give a sentence that reflected the enormity of what had been taken from his family.

Todd's sister, who attended a restorative justice conference with McMillan, said the experience had been "soul destroying".

She said she felt McMillan had made a terrible mistake that he would have to live with forever and asked the judge not to send him to prison.

Judge Tremewan said that reading the reports and looking over the case she found the impact of Todd's death had been "severe and ongoing".

"The girls will have to live with the physical and emotional consequences for the rest of their lives, " she said.

Tremewan spoke of a talented, energetic woman who had been struck down in her prime, and noted the sentence she imposed on McMillan was not meant to reflect the value of the loss of her life.

She said McMillan was exceptionally remorseful - attending a restorative justice conference, pleading guilty, offering reparation and attending an alcohol seminar - but he could not change what had happened.

"What is done cannot be undone," she said.

The sentencing was instead intended to hold him accountable and give closure.

It was also meant to deter others, Tremewan said.

She sentenced McMillan to four years jail and disqualified him from driving for three years. 

- Stuff

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