20 Apr 2018

Racer sentenced for manslaughter: 'You left those kids'

6:21 pm on 20 April 2018

A young man has escaped jail time for his part in the deaths of four people killed when their car crashed while street racing his vehicle near Hamilton in June 2016.

Dylan Cossey at sentencing for manslaughter at the High Court in Hamilton.

Dylan Cossey at sentencing for manslaughter at the High Court in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Dylan Cossey, 21, was today sentenced in the High Court in Hamilton to one year of home detention, 400-hours of community work and disqualification from driving for seven years.

He was found guilty at a trial in February of four counts of manslaughter, one of racing and one of failing to stop to ascertain injuries.

Cossey was racing with another car on State Highway 3 when that car passed his and then lost control, ploughing into a van.

The four who died in the crash were aged 19, 20, 24 and the driver Lance Robinson, was 28.

Cossey had momentarily slowed down as Mr Robinson sped past him and seconds later the car fish-tailed and lost control.

In a victim impact statement, the mother of Hannah Strickett-Craze, Erica Stricket-Fraser, said her sense of lost is unbearable.

"It's a battle to drive past that crash site on my way to work and on the way home."

She told Cossey that he should look at the sentence as an opportunity to move forward in a positive direction.

"And to do something wonderful with your life which is what Hannah would have done."

Amber Da Silva, the aunt of Paul Da Silva, spoke directly to Cossey.

"You chose to drive away from that accident and I can not express how angry I am that you left those kids."

Crown prosecutor Duncan McWilliam wanted a starting point in sentencing of between eight and nine years and said culpability for what happened must be shared between both Lance Robinson and Cossey.

"It's suggested it was a duration of driving of around nine minutes but the Crown simply says that that was ample time for the defendant to disengage from this pattern of driving and ample time to slow down to the speed limit."

Defence lawyer, Philip Morgan QC accepted there was equal blame for the racing, but blame for the deaths of the four people did not mainly rest with his client.

"The jury's verdict does not establish Mr Cossey's driving was the sole cause and the verdict of the jury does not establish is that the driving of Mr Cossey was the primary cause."

Mr Morgan thought a starting point of three years was more appropriate.

Justice Hinton said while Cossey was racing, he wasn't the driver who lost control.

"There was no additional action by you which caused the driver of the other car to lose control, such as aggressive driving, or a dangerous passing manoverve. You were in your lane and you decelerated, albeit only immediately prior to the accident."

Justice Hinton said Cossey, while remorseful, believed the accident was not his fault.

"The fatal flaw in your thinking is it ignores the effect your racing, and your bad driving, had on Mr Robinson's driving.

"You both played a part in the tragic deaths and injuries," she said.

Outside the court, Ms Da Silva wasn't happy with the sentence.

"Home detention - they still have the luxuries or Sky TV, good food, they've got the luxury of a hot shower, having parents running around after them, what was the point."

"I think it is a joke," she said.

For the police, Detective Inspector Daryl Smith said the crash and deaths of four people were avoidable, senseless and tragic.

"The impact of the decisions made by those involved is going to have a long-term effect on the families of the deceased."

A person in the car with Cossey, 20-year-old Stephen Jones, had his sentencing on racing, failing to stop and trying to pervert the course of justice adjourned today to allow for a further probation report.

He will be sentenced on 3 May.

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