Crash driver jailed

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 12:06 21/05/2014

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Jo Cox told the woman who killed her dad in a head-on crash at Oakura near New Plymouth how sick and scared she felt seeing his horrific injuries at the scene.

Four days later, Roland Peters' family was left devastated when the ICU doctor recommended his life support be turned off, she told the New Plymouth District Court yesterday.

The driver of the car, Paula Michelle Scott, 44, of New Plymouth, was yesterday sentenced to three years' jail and disqualified for the same period.

Scott wept in the dock and took deep breaths as Peters family members' victim impact statements were read out to her.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Roland Peters and injuring his son Chris Peters on June 30 last year.

The family spoke of their deep-felt anger at what she had done, her lack of any apology to them and their deeply felt grief at his untimely death.

Jo Cox wanted Scott to never be allowed to drive again.

Gathered outside after the sentencing, the Peters family said 10 long months later they could now move on with their lives.

''It's a weight off our shoulders. It does feel like closure,'' his daughter said.

The court heard of the guilt his son, Chris Peters, who was driving the courier van in which his father was a passenger, had suffered despite being blame free.

''We can move on but she has to live with this the rest of her life,'' Chris Peters said.

Earlier during sentencing Crown solicitor Cherie Clarke called for a five-year jail sentence after identifying five aggravating factors including prolonged and extremely bad driving.

Scott acknowledged she was driving when deprived of sleep.

Her medical condition, including an operation weeks before, was not a mitigating factor, Clarke said.

The crash report found fatigue was a factor but her actions were more than fatigue, Clarke said.

Blood could not be taken from Scott to determine if anything else was a factor, she said.  

Defence counsel Kylie Pascoe said any suggestion the crash was any more than a fatigue issue had absolutely no evidential base.

Police had been told in January of Scott's wish for a restorative justice meeting with the family.

However, Pascoe said she had to accept responsibility for Scott not contacting family in case the contact caused more trauma for them.

A meeting could still be held at a later point. Pascoe asked for a two-year jail sentence converted to home detention.

Judge Allan Roberts said the impact on the family, as heard in the victim impact statements, was graphic. No sentencing could relieve that grief.

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''A life was lost needlessly,'' the judge said.

The crash was not just a split-second error but resulted from a prolonged period of poor driving which had fatal consequences.

Scott was in no condition to drive after admitting she had not slept in 24 hours, the judge said.

A motorist following watched her poor driving for 20 minutes from New Plymouth to Oakura.

She had crossed the line several times, veering back into her lane, braked erratically and nearly drove into a driveway.

Scott had many many opportunities where she could have pulled over well before the crash, the judge said.

She had a number of personal health issues and acknowledged full responsibility for the crash.

Scott told her pre sentence report writer she would accept any sentence and was extremely remorseful.

She had been willing to take part in a restorative justice meeting but for whatever reason this had not be availed of nor taken up, the judge said.

Scott had a history of drug abuse and had been on the methadone programme for the last three years.

However, she denied this  played a part in the crash, the judge said.

A blood test was not taken at the hospital on the day of the crash.

- Taranaki Daily News

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