Charges laid over fourth son's death

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2014

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West Coast woman Joe Hall and her partner have lost four sons in tragic circumstances and they are about to have the worst seats in court again.

Yesterday, West Coast police announced they had laid manslaughter charges against the driver involved in a Greymouth car crash that killed his friend, Runanga man Judd Hall, 26.

The Press understands Jordan McGrath, 26, was driving when the car hit a wooden house on Greymouth's main road, opposite Grey Base Hospital, in January.

Hall, a back-seat passenger, was killed and the other passenger, a man in his mid 20s, suffered lung injuries. McGrath was impaled through his abdomen by a piece of wood and spent weeks in Christchurch Hospital.

West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning said yesterday the driver had been charged with manslaughter and was due to appear in the Greymouth District Court on April 29.

He faced an alternative charge of dangerous driving causing death, plus dangerous driving causing injury and drink-driving.

Joe Hall said yesterday Judd's brother, Jessop, 7, was run over by a woman in Motueka in 1990.

The woman was charged with manslaughter and eventually sentenced to two years' jail for dangerous driving causing death.

At the time, Joe Hall found the experience tough. "There was no accountability the first time. Having to live with that hate was so hard. This time, it's a far better process. The police are working with me, it feels more fair."

Since the crash, McGrath had rung Joe Hall and had offered to talk to her family about what happened. She and her partner, Rick (Rowdy) Durbridge, hoped to meet him this weekend at his Kumara home.

"That . . . means so much to us."

However, she said it was extremely painful to lose Judd, who moved home to live with her in Runanga last September.

"He's older so there's more memories."

She said her son had planned to stay home the night he was killed and was already in his pyjamas but agreed to go out to a Kumara party when his friends called him about 10.45pm. About half an hour later he was dead.

A few years after Jessop's death, Brett, 19, died in a fall in Auckland and the Pike River coalmine explosion in November 2010 claimed another son, Dan Herk, 36.

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- The Press

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