Driver tells inquest about morbid jokes

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Inspector Tania Kura gives evidence at the Coroner's inquest into Pam McGarva's death. Photo Paul Taylor.
Inspector Tania Kura gives evidence at the Coroner's inquest into Pam McGarva's death. Photo Paul Taylor.

The driver in a car crash which killed a Napier kindergarten teacher has told a coroner's hearing that she would joke about killing herself on her parent's birthday.

Pam McGarva died 10 days after Lyree Sayers crashed into her on Prebensen Drive in Napier in 2014.

Sayers was found not guilty of her manslaughter, after police alleged she purposely swerved into Ms McGarva to try to kill herself.

Sayers told Coroner Tim Scott at the inquest into Pam McGarva's death that she has no recollection of any of the events that happened on the days before the crash, the crash itself or the days afterwards.

She did say that her and her partner Shane Phillips often had disagreements and she'd seek solace at her parent's house afterwards.

Crown Prosecutor Clayton Walker said to Sayers "don't you think that is astounding that in the context of this coroner's hearing, following on from a High Court trial where the accusation was you attempted to commit suicide in crashing the car, that you don't remember having suicide thoughts in the past?"

"You would remember those suicide thoughts, and you do remember them, don't you?" Mr Walker asked.

"I think I was just saying things to get attention," Sayers responded, because she wanted "love, like happiness and kindness from someone".

She told the hearing that she and her brother would joke about having a pact to commit suicide together.

"We would joke about different things. I would say . . . wouldn't it be funny if on their birthday we both committed suicide. Happy birthday."

She admitted it sounded horrible but the conversations were not serious.

Sayers said she was glad her brother was not there when she told the story as he would be laughing.

She also admitted to joking about committing suicide to a shop assistant at a hardware store.

She said she tried to amuse herself by telling the assistant she wanted a nail gun to put in her head.

Hawke's Bay Area Commander Inspector Tania Kura told the hearing she spoke to Sayers' father, Patrick Sayers, on the night of the crash when his daughter was in intensive care at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Ms Kura said Mr Sayers told her he wouldn't be surprised if Lyree had intentionally tried to commit suicide by crashing.

She said it was a spontaneous comment from him, and not as the result of any questions that she asked him.

Ms Kura said Mr Sayers was making a lot of comments about Lyree struggling in the past with mental illness and drug use.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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