4 Mar 2009

Drug-affected driver jailed for killing pensioner

6:27 pm on 4 March 2009

A man who killed a pensioner in a head-on crash while under the influence of drugs has been sentenced to prison for six years.

Peter Drinnan, 39, was sentenced in the High Court in New Plymouth on Wednesday for the manslaughter of Norman Luscombe.

Mr Luscombe, 83, died after the crash near Hawera in January last year.

Drinnan was driving to New Plymouth to get a daily dose of methadone. Before the crash, he had been bailed from the Hawera police station.

Police are investigating their handling of the case.

Mr Luscombe's daughter is calling for tougher restrictions on methadone users driving.

Bev O'Keefe, a Rotorua GP, says her father's death was one of a spate of crashes in Taranaki involving methadone users.

Dr O'Keefe says she is concerned that these patients are using a number of drugs, not just methadone.

People on methadone are allowed to drive, providing a doctor certifies that their treatment does not affect their ability behind the wheel.