18 Dec 2018

Teen's grieving parents hand over petition with 143,000 signatures

4:05 pm on 18 December 2018

A petition has been presented to Parliament this afternoon by the grieving parents of a teen killed in a hit and run.

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From left: Labour's Marja Lubeck and Duncan Webb with Opposition Leader Simon Bridges, Orion and Charlene Kraatskow, and National's Erica Stanford and Mark Mitchell at Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Jonathan Mitchell

Nineteen-year-old Rouxle Le Roux hit and killed 15-year-old Auckland cyclist Nathan Kraatskow in May.

She had been drinking and smoking marijuana at the time.

Last week, Le Roux was sentenced to 11 months home detention, 250 hours of community work and was disqualified from driving for two-and-a-half years.

However, Nathan Kraatskow's parents have received nearly 144,000 signatures in a petition to appeal that sentence.

Speaking outside parliament, Nathan's parents said justice needs to be served and they believed prison time was an appropriate punishment.

Father Orion Kraatskow fought back tears and said justice needed to be served.

"Our cheeky, loving boy has been robbed of his future and fulfilling his dream of being in the Air Force, a dream he had held since he was five.

"I feel we have been let down and ignored, and we are now asking the Crown to make this right," he said.

Crown Law said it was considering appealing the sentence.

Le Roux's lawyer, Belinda Sellars QC told Checkpoint last night that her client was now the target of death threats. "On Saturday night there were people outside the house threatening to kill her. She's been receiving death threats by social media so she's not at home relaxing."

Police had been called to the scene, Ms Sellars said, and trespass notices may have been issued.

Speaking of the sentence imposed on her client, Ms Sellars said: "It was an accident ... Certainly, my client made some very bad decisions and wasn't blameless by any means. She pleaded guilty at a very early opportunity to dangerous driving causing death.

"But equally what happened was she was a young woman in a car with two other young men. She had had some alcohol and some cannabis earlier in the night, she was a learner driver and those two things are very much not in her favour."

She took a wrong turning off a motorway and then went too fast through an intersection. She didn't see the victim, she thought she had hit something and wanted to stop, however, the two boys refused and one then took over the driving.

Ms Sellars said by the next day her client was not functioning very well and was basically doing what others told her to do. "When she did get to the station she was completely open with the police..."

Le Roux was now aware of the pain she had caused her victim's family with her social media posts which included a photo of herself in an orange prison suit.

"It's one thing for us to interpret what somebody posts and particularly we're talking about a young person and interpret it in a certain way. It's another thing to actually hear the person and understand what's going on in their head..."

Ms Sellars believed her client was remorseful for what had happened and much of the comment about her on social media had been ill-informed. If there was to be an appeal over the sentence, a judge should be left to decide whether it was appropriate.