Father of dead youth angry over charges

Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014
Wiremu Vincent Thompson
Wiremu Vincent Thompson

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The father of the teenager killed by a car when walking home from a Waitara party says he is angry but understands why the driver is not charged with drink-driving causing his death.

Wiremu Thompson, 19, died near Big Jim's Garden Centre on State Highway 3 when he and his cousin were walking home from a Waitara party in the early hours of February 2.

The decision made by police, who had struggled with the decision, was that even a sober driver would not have seen Wiremu that night.

He was walking on the road in the dip and there would have been no time for a driver to stop, Wiremu's father Dennis Thompson of Bell Block said yesterday.

"I'm annoyed [the charge was withdrawn] but I can understand why," the father said.

"I look at it this way: two people were at fault, my son and the driver.

"I can understand that if she was sober she would have hit him as well. If she was sober she wouldn't have been charged at all."

On Tuesday in the New Plymouth District Court Kylee Denise Wallace, 37, of New Plymouth pleaded guilty to her third charge of driving with excess breath alcohol the night she crashed into the Bell Block teen.

She was on a learner's licence and speeding, the court heard.

Wallace was initially charged with drink-driving causing the teenager's death but this charge was withdrawn on Tuesday.

Yesterday Wiremu's father said the officer in charge of the case, Detective Byron Reid, had explained to the familywhy the more serious charge was withdrawn.

The investigation found that Wiremu had been walking in the driver's lane when she hit him, carrying him about 50m, the father said.

No one but Wiremu would ever know why he was in the middle of the road at that time, he said.

His cousin, Jipson Thompson, 18, who was walking ahead of him, did not know he was on the road.

Up until then, police said the two had been doing everything right.

In court Wallace offered to attend a restorative justice meeting with Wiremu's family prior to sentencing on July 2.

Dennis Thompson said four family members had said they would go to the meeting but he was too angry to go.

"My feeling is I've lost my son, I'm not going to gain anything by giving her anything.

"Others want to talk to her but I don't because I would go too far and then she won't be the only one going to jail. I'm hoping she will spend time [in jail]."

He and his wife Sharon were shocked that four other pedestrians had been hit and killed on Taranaki roads this year.

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"We can only give those people our condolences."

The message he wanted to give to other young people was to think twice about walking home at night.

"We're losing too many of our kids on the roads - and too many of them to suicide."

On the night Wiremu died, his parents had arranged for him to either call his mum for a ride home or for him to stay at his aunty's at Waitara.

"But for some reason he made the decision to walk home," his dad said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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