Man sentenced on victim's birthday

COURT REPORTER
Last updated 14:54 16/12/2013

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''Nothing will ever be the same again'' for Stephen Kirkcaldie's family, who spent his birthday in court for the sentencing of the man who caused his death.

Shane Bruce, 46, a food processor, of Timaru, was sentenced in the Timaru District Court today to 120 hours' community work for careless driving causing death.

Mr Kirkcaldie, 55, was cycling home on March 28 when Bruce knocked him down from behind in his Mitsubishi Galant. Both were understood to have just finished a shift at Fonterra's Clandeboye plant.

In the lead up to the crash, Bruce had overtaken a vehicle at about 120kmh and later crossed the centre line as he negotiated a bend.

Defence counsell Laura Lock said as Bruce turned the corner he became blinded by the sun and hit Mr Kirkcaldie. Bruce was travelling at 80 to 106kmh on impact.

Victim impact statements were read during the sentencing by two of Mr Kirkcaldie's family members.

One of his daughters spoke of her loss and the struggle she had endured since his death. She acknowledged the day was one that should have been of celebration.

''My dad will not be around today for his birthday,'' she said.

She said life had become an ''enormous struggle''.

''No one should witness their mum suffer every day. My brother, sister and I will not have a father at our weddings. We will be mourning his death for many years to come.''

A family member also read a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Kirkcaldie's wife.

She described how she had been waiting for him to arrive home for tea the night he was hit.

''I got a knock at the door that changed my life forever. I was told due to his injuries he did not make it - my husband was gone.

''I was devastated, I wanted to die myself. The pain we have experienced is beyond description.''

She said she tries to remain strong.

''I guess the hardest part is I don't want to upset my kids so I cry alone and [picture] my husband consoling me.''

Judge Joanna Maze apologised that the sentencing had coincided with Mr Kirkcaldie's birthday and acknowledged the family's bravery.

She said although the loss to the victims was ''life long'', Bruce was ''deeply sorry'' for his actions and was ''haunted'' by the incident.

''I'm sure if you could, you would go back and this would not have happened," she told Bruce. ''You are deeply remorseful. You are being treated for severe depression - you are punishing yourself well above anything I can impose.''

She sentenced him to 120 hours' community work. He was also disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay $5000 in reparation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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