The father whose 3-year-old son was killed when the van he was in rolled into a South Island lake after the handbrake was left off has been allowed to walk free.

Ashish Macwan was discharged without conviction when he appeared for sentencing at the Manukau District Court today.

The 32 year old had plead guilty in June to careless driving causing death.

Macwan had stopped the rented Toyota Hiace beside Lake Dunstan in Otago during a family holiday because his wife, Kinnary, was unwell and he wanted to stretch his legs after driving for two hours.

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But the handbrake was not on and the van shot backwards down a bank and plunged into the lake.

It sank 5m beneath the surface with Aarush inside trapped by his seatbelt.

At his sentencing today Judge Blackie said he agreed with Macwan's lawyer that his "carelessness was minimal".

The police did not oppose the discharge without conviction and Judge Blackie said it was right for the police to bring the matter to court.

"It is not for the police to decide the outcome, but the court."

Macwan had previously told the Herald he would accept whatever punishment he was given because nothing would be as bad as a life without his son.

"Truly I'm not worried about what might happen. Whatever sentence might come - to me losing Aarush is such a big thing I can't feel anything - just give me any sentence. It doesn't make any difference because it's not going to be bigger than that."

He had relived the tragedy many times and wished he had done many things differently but knew that dwelling on what might have been would not help.

"Still, it's something as parents that haunts us."

The family had been in New Zealand less than a year before the tragedy but Macwan said there was no chance he and his wife would return home to India and leave their son behind.

If they had been allowed, the parents would have taken their son back to India for burial, but Macwan was forbidden to leave the country because he was facing the criminal charges.

"We just want to stay with Aarush.

"We don't want to leave New Zealand even when the case is finished because he's here. This is our home now and we don't want to leave him."