Driver's reduced charge disputed

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014

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The New Plymouth driver who hit and killed a pedestrian north of New Plymouth when over the alcohol limit may yet face a more serious charge.

Kylee Denise Wallace, 37, was initially charged with drink-driving causing the death of Wiremu Thompson, 19, of Bell Block about 4.30am on February 2.

Thompson had been walking home with his cousin from a party in Waitara and was on State Highway 3, next to Big Jim's Garden Centre, when he was hit.

But the charge was reduced to one of drink-driving after prosecutors reviewed the serious crash unit's report and decided that Wallace's drink-driving could not be linked to the death.

Wallace then pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of drink-driving - her third.

Police had explained to the Thompson family that Wiremu was walking in a dip in the road and there was no time for a driver - drunk or sober - to stop.

But when Wallace appeared in New Plymouth District Court yesterday for sentence on the reduced charge, prosecutor Adam Pell, a North Shore lawyer, told Judge Allan Roberts he had reviewed the file and believed that the charge should have remained one of drink-driving causing death rather than driving with excess breath alcohol.

He asked that the case be held for two weeks for the Crown to seek a legal opinion.

Wallace's lawyer Julian Hannam opposed the review. His understanding was that the drink-driving causing death was withdrawn after the review of the serious crash report.

The judge said Wallace would be jailed on the lesser drink-driving charge.

Wiremu Thompson had died because the vehicle Wallace drove while intoxicated collided with him.

The judge said he saw that "as a significant aggravating factor in the change as it stands".

Hannam might want to advise his client that she should use the time to attend a restorative justice conference, to express her remorse to the victims, after pulling out the day before it was to take place. The judge said he saw that as an absence of remorse.

Hannam then spoke quietly to his weeping client in the dock.

He then told the judge she was "obviously going to engage in restorative justice" agreeing that it was the best way for her to express her remorse.

Judge Roberts then remanded the case until July 17 for police to reconsider a charge of drink-driving causing death.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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