A young man killed by a drunk driver had planned to propose to his girlfriend on the day of his funeral.

Jesse Uncles was killed after an unwarranted and unregistered 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4 car driven by Tyler Walker, 21, crashed on Farndon Rd on August 8 last year.

Walker was more than three times over the limit, and the crash killed Mr Uncles and seriously injured passengers Kayden French and Stephen Palmer.

Walker appeared in the Napier District Court yesterday morning in front of a highly emotional public gallery with standing room only.

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Walker, 21, was jailed for three years and nine months and disqualified from driving for seven years. He earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of drink-driving causing death, two charges of drink-driving causing injury and one of dangerous driving.

In a statement read out to court, the parents of Mr Uncles said the night he died was a continual nightmare.

Dennis and Helen Uncles said his injuries were so bad they couldn't even see their son to say goodbye and the coffin had to be closed.

They said Jesse was a kind and charitable young man, who planned to propose to his girlfriend on the day of his funeral.

His last words not long before the crash happened were "I love you mummy".

Leanne French, the mother of injured passenger Mr French, said for seven weeks her son clung on while on life support with a mangled, beaten up body in ICU in Wellington Hospital.

The 22-year-old received life-threatening injuries, and his mother said he spent nearly eight months in hospital and they didn't know whether he was going to fully recover.

As a result of the crash Mr Palmer suffered spinal injuries and Walker suffered a knock to the head, but was largely uninjured. Yesterday the court heard, a blood sample taken after the crash showed Walker had a blood-alcohol level of 218mg per 100ml - the legal limit at the time was 80, which means he was almost three times over the limit.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said Walker admitted to drinking seven cans of beer, as well as a can from a beer funnel and a swig of spirits.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said Walker showed a cavalier disregard for himself and his passengers, and other members of the public on the road that night.

He said it was an accident waiting to happen.

Walker's lawyer Eric Forster said his client had a previous drink-drinking conviction in 2014, and the second time he was caught has ended in absolute calamity.

Mr Foster said his client had real remorse and was deeply upset that he's lost two of his good friends.

Earlier this year Mr Uncles parents said their son was not a boy racer, but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They said he made a last-minute decision to head out for a quick trip with the other three men to retrieve a forgotten bottle of vodka.