27 Apr 2018

Cambridge crash driver sentenced to 6 and a half years

From Checkpoint, 5:42 pm on 27 April 2018

A man with a list of crimes dating back 18 years has returned to prison after being sentenced for the manslaughter of a friend killed in a high speed car crash in Cambridge in September.

Cameron Thomas, 35, has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years with a minimum period of three years and three months.

He's also been disqualified from driving for 10 years.

He was sentenced in the High Court in Hamilton on Friday.

On the morning of the crash Thomas had just been released from prison.

He drove a friend's car at high-speed through Cambridge followed by police.

At one point after reaching speeds of about 130 kilometres per hour he lost control, hit a parked car, became airborne and then flipped killing his passenger Shane Hohepa and seriously injuring two others.

He then attempted to flee from the scene.

Justice Moore described what happened as appalling.

"You are a disqualified driver, you drove when your breath alcohol level was twice the legal limit, you ignored the pleas of your passengers to slow down and stop, you are running from the police and after the crash you failed to give proper assistance.

"It's my assessment that your offending is at the more serious end of the scale."

Justice Moore said Thomas lacked genuine remorse.

"The effects of what you did that day were so utterly predictable and so utterly avoidable."

Thomas' list of previous crimes includes three of reckless driving, five of driving while disqualified, and two of dangerous driving.

Mr Hohepa was the eldest of nine children.

His mother, Janine Hohepa, told the court the death of her son has caused anger, hurt and pain.

She spoke directly to Thomas while giving her victim impact statement.

"If you had listened to the passengers and stopped the car, my son might still be here today."

Mrs Hohepa said her son had shared his home with Thomas and had been his friend.

"I would truly like to believe that you didn't mean to do this and I pray in the future you will remember this moment in time and stop before you do anything stupid like this again.

"In time we will heal but we will never forget what you have done," she said sobbing.

Justice Moore disqualified Thomas from driving for 10 years telling him he had been a persistent threat to other road users for the last 15 years.