A woman who used her own daughter's death in a car crash as an example to help rehabilitate prisoners in jail was killed by a driver who had 14 pages of criminal convictions.

Donna Hillary Blake died on June 19 last year in a two-car crash on State Highway 1, south of Whangārei when Randall Kevin Wilson drove off from Oakleigh Caltex without paying for $108.35 worth of petrol.

Wilson, a tattooist from Hikurangi, was jailed for three years and two months when he appeared for sentence in the Whangārei District Court today after pleading guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing death.

He was convicted and discharged on a charge of stealing petrol and possession of a cannabis pipe, also on June 19.

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Following sentencing family of 54-year-old Donna Blake expressed concern that a man with such an extensive criminal history was even allowed to drive.

Whanau of Donna Blake who was killed by a driver with an extensive criminal record say the jail sentence didn't match the crime. From left Rebecca Wharemate, Hone Sadler and Dawn Karena.
Whanau of Donna Blake who was killed by a driver with an extensive criminal record say the jail sentence didn't match the crime. From left Rebecca Wharemate, Hone Sadler and Dawn Karena.

Her uncle Hone Sadler said Donna had worked in Springfield, Tongariro and Waikeria prison's and had used the death of her adopted daughter Katie, 10 years ago, as an example of what tragic consequences could result from criminal offending.

"He shouldn't have been out on the streets because of what he was capable of. We are the ones that copped it. The amount of time didn't fit the crime because of his recidivist offending," Sadler said.

Blake had also worked at Community Probation in Kaikohe, during which time she planted vegetables in the main street's planter boxes for locals to take.

She had moved north to take care of her ageing father but had taken a job in Huntly just before her death. She had then been travelling north to visit him and family every second weekend and it was on one of those trips that she was killed.

Rebecca Wharemate said Donna would be remember for her honesty, straight talking and ability to "call a spade a spade and never a shovel".

"She also had that special magic and empathy," Wharemate said.

She was also a creative person, turning unwanted items into beautiful artworks.

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Judge Deidre Orchard acknowledged the whanau and said after reading a victim impact statement from family member Dawn Karena it was oblivious just how much Donna was loved.

Throughout sentencing Wilson stood between two police security officers with his head bowed and cried most of the time.

It was revealed Wilson had 14 pages of criminal history, which started when he was 17, and included five convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol, 10 for driving while disqualified and more for driving while disqualified as well as cannabis and methamphetamine convictions. It continued with dishonesty convictions relating to taking motor vehicles and theft from vehicles.

"It is obvious to any one reading your convictions you have been working in a criminal lifestyle since youth," Judge Orchard said.

The result in this instance had been "catastrophic", with an innocent woman's life being taken.

The court heard how Wilson covered the number plates on the vehicle and then drove off at speed after filling up with petrol.

Wilson made a sharp turn, intending to head south, when he slammed into Donna's vehicle.

"She had absolutely no chance of avoiding your vehicle," the judge said.

The crash caused Donna's car to flip and she died at the scene. She had been on loudspeaker phone to her brother at the time and he reported hearing a "roaring noise", which added to his anguish over the death.

It was revealed that just a day before sentencing Wilson had breached his electronic bail conditions and failed a blood test which detected cannabis. He was disqualified from driving for four years, to start on his release from prison.