Teen's death 'drenched in sadness and remorse'

By Katie Holland -
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Colt Murcott
Colt Murcott

A teenager who took his step-brother's life in a moment of "gut wrenching stupidity" will have to live with that forever, a court has heard.

Colt Arthur Murcott, 19, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua today to three years and two months in prison. He had previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Katikati 16-year-old Ricky Pettigrew, two charges each of driving with excess blood alcohol causing injury and reckless driving causing injury, and one charge of failing to stop after an accident.

About 1am on October 28 last year Murcott, who had drunk 10 stubbies of beer, performed a hand-brake skid on a gravel stretch of Hikorangi Rd, despite pleas from passengers to slow down.

He lost control of the car and it crashed into a tree. Mr Pettigrew, a rear seat passenger, died at the scene and two other passengers were injured.

Murcott fled the scene, after offering one of the passengers $150 to "take the rap" for him. He was found several hours later and admitted what he'd done.

In court today, Tauranga Crown prosecutor Hayley Sheridan said Murcott's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was estimated to have been 191 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. The limit for under 20-year-olds is zero, while the adult limit is 80 milligrams.

Mr Pettigrew's mother Donna Rewa read her victim impact statement to the court. She said her son was taken away when he was a baby but they had reconnected when he was 15.

"I miss my son and grieve for him every day," she said.

Ms Rewa said she felt for Murcott and hoped he got the help and treatment he needed.

Fiona Cotterill then read a victim impact statement on behalf of her partner, who was Mr Pettigrew's half-brother. She said his death had devastated them and their children.

She then turned to face Murcott in the dock.

"Colt, we have no hate for you," she said. "This is not the end of your life. You can move forward and live a good life and not hurt anyone else."

Murcott's lawyer, Craig Tuck, said it had been a spur of the moment action mixed with alcohol, immaturity and "gut wrenching stupidity".

"The result [was] essentially cataclysmic," he said. "This is a case drenched in sadness and remorse."

Justice Simon Moore said the case was tragic for both Mr Pettigrew's family and Murcott.

"[You] must every day for the rest of your life look back at what happened that night," he told Murcott.

In reaching the final sentence he gave Murcott credit for his early guilty plea, youth, good character and remorse.

"You must serve the punishment for your offending because that is the law of this land," he said.

"The best way that you can atone for the terrible consequences of that night is for you to lead a positive and good life on your release."

Murcott was also disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay $93 reparation for blood analyst costs.

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