Tattoos pay tribute to Taranaki woman killed while trying to help others video

ANDY JACKSON/Stuff.co.nz

John Fairweather opens up about the death of his wife Christine who was killed while making the road safe for others.

Four tattoos adorn the arms of John Fairweather, all etched as tributes to his dead wife.

Prior to the manslaughter of Christine Fairweather in August 2014, the Hawera man had never considered getting a tattoo.

Now every morning and night, he kisses his left forearm, which bears an inked resemblance of her face.  

John Fairweather has four tattooed tributes on his arms, inked in memory of his wife Christine, who was killed in August ...
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

John Fairweather has four tattooed tributes on his arms, inked in memory of his wife Christine, who was killed in August 2014.

Another is of Christine's favourite flower, a red rose and the latest addition is a Maori design which reflects the couple's relationship and their children.

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"I do that to honour her," John said.

On April 4, Daniel George Gavin, left, Samuel Lance Hawkins, and Jason John Campbell were sentenced to home detention ...
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ

On April 4, Daniel George Gavin, left, Samuel Lance Hawkins, and Jason John Campbell were sentenced to home detention and community work for the August 2014 manslaughter of Hawera grandmother Christine Fairweather.

"That's my way of showing my love to her, because they will be with me to the day I go," he said.

It's been a week since three men were sentenced for causing his wife's death, and John said every day without Christine is difficult.

"They don't have to live through what we've lived through, every day's a struggle," he said.

John Fairweather talks about the death of his wife Christine.
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

John Fairweather talks about the death of his wife Christine.

On April 4, Justice Matthew Muir sentenced the trio - who deliberately blocked State Highway 3 in Normanby with metal fencing on August 2, 2014 - on manslaughter charges.

Christine was hit and killed by another vehicle as she attempted to move the barriers off the road. She was on her way home from a night babysitting her grandchildren in Kaponga at the time.

Daniel George Gavin, 21, was given seven months' home detention, Samuel Lance Hawkins, 19, will serve nine months' home detention while Jason John Campbell, 18, was sentenced to 12 months' home detention.  Each would also have to complete 100 hours of community work.

John Fairweather says every day without his wife, who was killed when hit by a car in 2014, was a struggle.
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

John Fairweather says every day without his wife, who was killed when hit by a car in 2014, was a struggle.

The police investigation ascertained Hawkins and Campbell were the ones who blocked both lanes with the barriers, while Gavin remained in the car.

John said being able to talk with two of the offenders, and in particular Gavin, at a restorative justice meeting had given him some insight into what had happened. He said of the three involved, Gavin was the only one to show any remorse. 

He said if the trio had responded to his call for them to "man-up" in the days following Christine's death, it may have been easier to forgive them. But one of the worst parts for him had been not knowing who had been involved in causing his wife's death until police arrested the group three months later.

A portrait of John and Christine Fairweather.
DEENA COSTER

A portrait of John and Christine Fairweather.

While he praised the efforts of police, the Crown prosecutor and Justice Muir, he still felt let down by the type of sentence imposed as he believed jail should have been considered.

"It's the system, the sentencing laws in this country are bloody ridiculous," he said.

He said he also thought a lot about Geoff Hart, the man driving the ute which hit Christine and how his life had also been "destroyed" by the three men's actions. Hart was charged with careless driving causing death and was sentenced to 100 hours community work in January 2015.

After losing his job in the wake of Christine's death and turning to the bottle as a means to cope, John was still trying to find his feet again following his devastating loss.

While he still lives in the home he shared with Christine, the lounge, previously the heart of the home, has been left untouched by John who found sitting in there too much to bear at times.

Photos of Christine and the wider family cover the walls as do cross-stitch tapestries she made, including one she spent two years working on.

"This is how she left it, this is all her memories here," he said.

"She left a lot of people behind that loved her so much."

 

 - Stuff

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