31 Jul 2019

Family of man killed by driver in wrong side of road say sentence not enough

5:26 pm on 31 July 2019

Whanau and friends of a man killed by a woman driving the wrong way on a Wellington motorway say her sentence isn't enough.

Kathleen Grey, 72, was sentenced to six months community detention in the Wellington District Court today.

In February she pleaded guilty to aggravated careless driving causing injury or death.

Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire was killed when the car Grey was driving collided with his motorcycle at about 3am back in December.

Grey was going the wrong way on State Highway One when the crash happened near Johnsonville.

Mr Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's mother Lisa Lemaire described her son as kind, funny, and a real people person.

She said the sentence given to Grey was very disappointing.

"We didn't want her hung, drawn, and quartered, we didn't want her jailed, but we wanted her to be held accountable, because her driving that night was really far from what any kiwi would find was acceptable, so i just think the sentence should have reflected that a lot more."

The police should have tested Grey for illegal or prescription drugs after the crash, she said.

Grey had driven more than 800km that day - from Northland to Wellington, and was waiting for a ferry to take her to Picton when she decided to go for the drive that ended in the fatal crash.

She drove for 13.5km, against the traffic on the motorway, until it happened.

During the court, hearing Ms Lemaire told Grey her son was loved and cherished by many, including his two-year-old daughter, and fiancé.

And she said he was a forgiving person.

"He forgives you, I know that.

"And I just want to say peace be with you, and that my son, he just was forgiving, and everybody knows here he's gone, and his daughter is hurting terribly but he was a forgiving person and he forgives you."

She said Grey hadn't shown any remorse over the death of her son, and had refused to engage in restorative justice with the whanau.

During the hearing a victim support person spoke on behalf of Mr Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's fiancé, Te Whetu Nuku.

The statement said Ms Nuku was having a hard time sleeping since her fiancee had died, two months before they were due to be married.

"Some nights I can't sleep and when I do have nightmares about Sam getting hit off his bike, it's like he shows me through his eyes what happened the night he was killed.

"The last two months I haven't been able to look after my daughter because it's too hard for me to handle and watch her bond with a box of ashes, seeing her talk to him."

In sentencing Grey, Judge Bruce Davidson said when she decided to go for a drive, she had been awake many hours.

"You were clearly fatigued and unfamiliar with the area.

"Put bluntly you should not have driven, you should have sat in your car and waited for the next ferry.

"You ignored warnings from other motorists."

Judge Davidson said a case for a more serious charge of dangerous driving causing death, could have been brought.

But he decided not to sentence Grey to prison.

"It would be in my view a retrograde step, making a terrible situation, arguably even worse."

Grey was also ordered to pay $3000 in reparations to the family, and disqualified from driving for 18 months.