Driver offered passenger bribe

By Sandra Conchie

The teenager responsible for the alcohol-fuelled crash which killed Katikati teen Ricky Pettigrew offered a bribe to one of his other passengers to "take the rap".

It has also been revealed that Colt Arthur Murcott, 19, had drunk 10 stubbies of beer before he took the wheel after he insisted he drive the car rather than the sober driver.

The other teen and another teenager passenger in the car who are relatives of Murcott were both injured in the crash.

Mr Pettigrew, 16, seated in the rear passenger seat was killed after a speeding Murcott lost control of his Ford sedan after performing a skid followed by a hand-brake slide on the gravel stretch of Hikurangi Rd, Katikati about 1am on October 28 last year.

The car collided with a small wire fence then slammed into a tree and came to rest several metres further down the road.

He was estimated to be travelling between 100 to110km/h and one of the occupants had urged him to slow down. He was also driving contrary to his learner's licence by not having a qualified supervisor in his car, and being aged under 20 he was breaching the zero-alcohol driving restriction.

Before Murcott fled the scene he offered to pay one teen $150 to "take the rap" and say he had been driving. Mr Pettigrew died at the scene despite first aid efforts by one of Murcott's passengers. One of Murcott's other victims suffered cuts and bruising to both legs and a damaged right arm, the other sustained bruising to his lungs and a fractured vertebrae.

A blood sample analysis seven hours after the crash revealed Murcott had an excess blood alcohol of 97mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Murcott pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge and two charges each of driving with an excess blood alcohol causing bodily injury and operating a motor vehicle recklessly causing injury in the High Court at Tauranga yesterday.

He also pleaded guilty to a further charge of failing to ascertain injury.

Ricky's father Rocky Pettigrew, 61, told the Bay of Plenty Times after this newspaper broke the news about Murcott's guilty pleas, that he was upset that he had missed the chance to see him admit responsibility for the crash.

Mr Pettigrew said the family had been told Murcott was to appear in Rotorua High Court today.

"We had all planned to be there. My two other sons who really looked up to Ricky, are particularly struggling to cope, and they really wanted to be there. They will be very upset when I tell them."

It was unclear whether there had been last minute venue and date change or confusion by the family about Murcott's court appearance.

Mr Pettigrew said Ricky's death was an "unbelievable tragedy" and he was particularly worried about the impact on his two other sons who looked up to their brother and are still "really grieving".

"Everything I have to say about Colt and his disgusting actions wouldn't be able to be printed in any newspaper," he said. Murcott admitted to police he had performed skids on Hikurangi Rd "hundreds" of times and ignored previous warnings by local residents not to do so. But Murcott claimed he would not normally speed on this road and had been "showing off".

Murcott has been bailed pending sentencing in the High Court at Rotorua on May 8.

Mr Pettigrew and his partner said they would be there to see "justice is served".

"Ricky would have been an All Black, it was his dream ..."

He said the tragedy was still very raw as they had constant reminders. The car he was going to gift his son on Labour Monday was still parked on the front lawn, and they were still battling ACC for compensation to help pay for his funeral costs.

Despite earlier reports Murcott was not a blood relative of Mr Pettigrew but was a half-brother to Ricky's younger siblings Kaos, 13, and Havoc, 12.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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