A Whanganui man who lost control of his car on a rural road, hitting a tree and killing his passenger, has been jailed.

Levi Lenoel was sentenced to three years and 11 months in prison for the crash which killed 33-year-old Georgina Davies in 2014.

He appeared in the Whanganui District Court yesterday having earlier pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Lenoel was driving north on a semi-rural part of Papaiti Rd on October 16, 2014, when he lost control on the approach to a sharp left-hand bend. He was estimated to be driving at twice the advised speed of 55km/h.

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The car slid sideways for about 30m before hitting a tree on the opposite side of the road.

"The vehicle struck the tree with such force that it wrapped around the tree trunk on the driver's side," Judge David Cameron said yesterday.

Miss Davies, who was in a relationship with Lenoel, was in the front passenger seat and died at the scene.

Lenoel was found to have 59 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (the limit was 80mg at the time) and THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, in his blood.

Yesterday, he was also sentenced on a blackmail charge relating to an incident where he and co-offender Julian Gunn hatched a plan to make the victim think Lenoel owed the Head Hunters gang $3000 and had been kidnapped and beaten up by the gang.

"This defendant was involved in an elaborate ruse to extract substantial monies from the victim," Judge Cameron said. Gunn was sentenced on Friday to 18 months' imprisonment for his part in the blackmail offending.

Defence lawyer Roger Crowley said Lenoel had done everything possible to show the court he had insight, was remorseful and had made changes.

"This is a man who, at age 24, was in the depths of a poly-substance abuse problem and the offending arose that way," Mr Crowley said.

"He is a young man not without intellect. For him to have a chance of changing and making a positive contribution to society, he will need to beat his drug abuse."

Lenoel had since paid $400 to the victim in the blackmail charge.

Judge Cameron said Lenoel had a "poor record of offending" including assault, aggravated robbery and drink driving.

"Until that addiction is brought under control, the defendant remains at high risk of reoffending."

Lenoel was sentenced to three years and 11 months in jail for dangerous driving causing death, and two years and three months in jail on the blackmail charge, to be served concurrently.

He was disqualified from holding a driver's licence for two years from his prison release date.