Mother shocked as driver reoffends

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 22/08/2012
Debbie Ashton
DEBBIE ASHTON: died in a 2006 head-on crash. Jonathan Barclay was convicted of her manslaughter.

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The mother of a Hope woman who was killed by a drunk-disqualified driver is "absolutely horrified" to hear the driver was in another road smash which seriously injured a young boy.

"When I realised it was a little 3-year-old kid who had been thrown out of the car . . . I thought to myself how on earth could someone like that person be allowed to drive," Judy Ashton said

Mrs Ashton's daughter Debbie, 20, was killed in a head-on crash in Hope in 2006 by driver Jonathon Barclay.

Barclay, now 31, was driving a BMW on Thursday when it was involved in a serious smash with a truck. A 3-year-old boy in the car was thrown from the car and Barclay and the boy ended up in intensive care of Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital.

Judy Ashton said hearing about the crash had hardened her resolve to ensure repeat driving offenders could not get back behind the wheel.

Barclay was seen doing a U-turn when the BMW was hit side-on, police said. A 30-year-old mother and the 1-year-old sibling of the boy were unhurt in the crash.

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.

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.”

In May, Mrs Ashton expressed her dismay that Barclay had been allowed a restricted licence upon his release from prison and could serve his three-year disqualification while in prison.

She said hearing of the crash had reaffirmed her resolve to fight so that driving disqualification of offenders sentenced to jail started when their jail term finished, not from when offenders were sentenced.

Barclay was sentenced to five years and six months for the manslaughter of Debbie, in a head-on crash at Hope in 2006.

He was released after three years and nine months. The manslaughter sentence finishes in November 2013.

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Mrs Ashton said she had been told Barclay was on a learner's licence which had conditions that meant he could only drive at certain times.

She said Barclay should never have been allowed his licence back and tougher restrictions were needed around drivers who committed serious driving offences, and kept making them, to ensure they were not able to get back on the road.

She did not believe Barclay would change as a result of his most recent smash and she said he was a manipulative person. "I don't think he will ever learn. It makes me more determined to get changes. "

Mrs Ashton said penalties should get tougher for repeat driving offenders to make sure they were stopped before they hurt or killed people.

Debbie's family and friends were waiting for the coroner's inquest into her death to be held and Mrs Ashton said she would look at the issues that came out of her daughter's inquest and the coroner's findings and campaign on those.

Barclay was under the witness protection scheme at the time of Debbie's death. A month before Debbie was killed, Barclay had been in court under an assumed identity, under the police witness protection programme, which masked his history, so he was dealt with as a first-time offender, even though he was still on parole for other crimes.

The case sparked a ministerial inquiry, which found in 2008 that a series of individual errors within the police and Corrections had led Barclay to remain at large in the community when he should not have been.

Mrs Ashton said she wanted to make sure that if someone was prosecuted under the witness protection scheme the court system was alerted to the individual's past criminal history.

She was also passionate about alerting people that it was easy for people to change their name and get a new driver's licence and she wanted the old identity of the driver linked to their new driver's licence to alert authorities to any previous convictions.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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