Drink driver jailed for killing teen

AMY MAAS
Last updated 14:27 07/08/2012
Sanele Pauli
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TRAGIC LOSS: Sanele Pauli of Mt Roskill was hit by a car after he stepped off a bus on Great North Rd.

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The family of a teenager who died after being struck by a drunk driver on the night of last year's Rugby World Cup final sobbed as his killer was jailed today.

Sivo Kerr, a 38-year-old builder from Grey Lynn, was sentenced to three years and one month in jail for killing Sanele Pauli.

Pauli, a 17-year-old Avondale College student, was crossing Great North Rd in Pt Chevalier at 2.20am with his two youngest brothers when he was hit.

The trio had just got off a bus and were crossing the road.

He died at the scene.

Kerr will serve two years and six months for driving with excess breath alcohol causing death. He will serve a seven-month cumulative sentence for driving while disqualified.

He has been disqualified from driving for five years.

He has also been ordered to pay a "token figure" of $1500 in emotional harm reparation once he is released from prison and is in full-time employment.

Kerr had a breath alcohol reading of 571 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400 micrograms.

Today, Pauli's mother, father, younger brother and younger sister sobbed as Judge Fraser read parts of their victim impact statements.

He said the pain the family carried was indescribable but they had prayed to God to forgive Kerr.

Pauli's mother's statement said: "If you are given a jail sentence it's good, but you can come out and move on with your life. We will never have the luxury of seeing our son again."

In sentencing, Judge Fraser took into account Kerr's remorse for killing the teenager and the fact he wanted to take part in the restorative justice programme - something the Pauli family have rejected because it was "too difficult to contemplate".

Kerr is a recidivist drink driver who had been drinking at his girlfriend's house on the night of the death. He had an argument with her and then got behind the wheel of the vehicle, causing Pauli's death.

Kerr struck Pauli while driving at a speed of 72.46kmh in a 50kmh zone.

Judge Fraser said Kerr's sentence needed to deter drink drivers to prevent such an "absolutely tragic consequence".

"We need to reflect the community's need to be protected from people like yourself who get behind the wheel heavily intoxicated," Judge Fraser said.

He said the death was a tragic loss that no sentence would be able to put right.

"This loss is something [the Pauli family] will live with for the rest of their lives, and the court's heartfelt sympathy is with them."

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Judge Fraser acknowledged that Kerr also struggled to come to terms with causing Pauli's death.

"You also wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what happened to Sanele and you stay up for hours," he said.

Judge Fraser said Kerr's time in jail "will be a permanent reminder to you and others touched by this tragedy the horror of drink driving."

Before Kerr was led away, Judge Fraser told him: "This is a chance to take stock of your life and I hope you do that.

Sadly, Sanele doesn't have that chance."

Pauli's family would not speak to the media outside the court, but have previously spoken out about their struggle to cope with the loss of their son, described as "loving, funny and well-behaved".

"It's very sad for me and my family," Fili Pauli, the teen's father, said in December.

"He was my special child, my oldest son, my right hand.

"I am so sad. I'm crying when I go to sleep, I'm crying when I wake up, I'm crying when I drive my car. It's so hard.

This is the family I look after for 17 years, now he's gone."

Fili Pauli said the family had forgiven the driver.

"I'm a Christian. I forgive him. I will leave it up to the police and the courts... I will leave it with God," he said.

- Auckland Now

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