'Rivers of blood just ran down him'

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 11:20 30/01/2014

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A recidivist drink-driver has admitted being drunk when he veered into a group of motorcyclists, killing one of them.

Garry Whalley, 54, appeared yesterday in the Hamilton District Court, where he admitted driving with an excess breath-alcohol level of 989 micrograms per litre of breath and causing the death of John Alexander Wilson, 57, of Wellington.

The crash happened on November 25, 2012. The legal breath-alcohol limit for people aged 20 or more is 400mcg.

Whalley, of Turangi, also admitted charges of drink-driving and causing injury to another motorcyclist, and driving while disqualified on December 19, 2012. It was revealed in court that Whalley has 16 driving-related convictions, including six for drink-driving and five for driving while banned. He has already served two prison sentences, in 1997 and 1998.

On the day of the crash, the Wellington group of motorcyclists, known as the Harley Davidson Owners Group, which included Mr Wilson and wife Lynn, set off on a trip to Taupo.

The group were making good time when they reached National Park, so the riders decided to have a look at the chateau and were heading towards Taupo on State Highway 47.

Up ahead, about 9.30am, Whalley was driving his unwarranted and unregistered vehicle.

By this stage the motorcyclists had split into two groups. In the first group, leading rider Dave Mallinder went to overtake Whalley's car but noticed Whalley veer towards him. Mr Mallinder and the others in that group, managed to safely avoid Whalley's car.

Then Mrs Wilson overtook him with Mr Wilson behind her. However, as Mr Wilson passed Whalley, he again veered his car toward the motorcyclists.

This caused Mr Wilson to take evasive action which led to him colliding with several other riders, including his wife, whose motorbike was hit from behind.

One rider suffered a broken leg, while Mr Wilson was airlifted to Waikato Hospital with critical injuries.

As people tended to the injured, Whalley left the scene, walking about 200 metres to his home.

Mr Wilson died on December 18 in Wellington Hospital.

The next day, Whalley was caught driving his car on State Highway 47 while disqualified, while also on bail facing charges relating to the crash.

Judge Philip Connell said the crash would not have happened if Whalley had not been drunk. Whalley was not meant to be driving and was also driving a car that should not have been on the road.

"This is something that you have to live with for the rest of your days."

Whalley was granted bail until Tuesday to get his affairs in order.

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A sentencing date will be set then and he will be remanded in custody.

Outside court, Mrs Wilson and Mr Mallinder were pleased Whalley had finally accepted his guilt.

"It's been well over a year, so I'm stoked," Mrs Wilson said.

Mr Wilson suffered horrific injuries, she said, including six facial fractures and multiple broken ribs. He lost his spleen and multiple teeth, suffered a lacerated liver and punctured lungs.

Mrs Wilson said she did not see the crash as she was on the bike ahead of her husband and got "slammed from behind". She said it had been a tough 14 months for their family, including their three children and 15 grandchildren.

"My eldest grandson did the haka when carrying John's coffin . . . he gouged out his chest so hard [during the haka] all these rivers of blood just ran down him."

The couple had been married for 38 years and moved to Wellington about eight years ago. Mrs Wilson said the group did the annual ride again last year but it was tough going to the crash scene.

"I've had to go through the firsts of everything. While it would be quite easy to run away and hide, which I was quite happy to do at one point, I realised I'm the only parent left and I have to get through the stuff first."

- Waikato

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