The son of one of the elderly women who died in a two-car crash in the far North told the 28-year-old Chilean national who had been driving on the wrong side of the road that he had done "a terrible thing".

"I hope you are remorseful, and that you often think of that day and the consequences of your lack of attention," Russell Ogilvy said.

"I hope that every single day when you wake up you will appreciate how precious life is, how quickly it can be taken away, and how lucky you are to be alive and healthy."

Pauline Ogilvy, holding the room with her
Pauline Ogilvy, holding the room with her "big, beautiful personality", and Marion Andrew.

Dante Felipe Basaez Vera, who required an interpreter, was sentenced to four months' home detention, with six months' post-detention conditions, and disqualified from driving for 18 months on each of two convictions of aggravated careless driving causing death when he appeared before Judge Deidre Orchard in the Kaitaia District Court last week.

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The crash happened on Houhora Heads Rd, south of Pukenui, on May 15.

Vera was sentenced to one month's home detention on a charge of aggravated careless driving causing injury, and was ordered to pay reparation of $1000 to each of the families of the deceased and the driver of the other car, who survived.

A Chilean man has pleaded guilty over this crash at Houhora Heads on May 15.
A Chilean man has pleaded guilty over this crash at Houhora Heads on May 15.

All sentences are to be served concurrently.

Vera, who had just begun a working holiday in New Zealand, was the driver of a van that collided head-on with a car shortly after he left the Houhora Heads camping ground. He had been in the wrong lane, both drivers taking evasive action in the same direction.

Marion Andrew, the front seat passenger in the car, died instantly, while rear seat passenger, Pauline Ogilvy, died at Whangārei Hospital later that day. The 80-year-old driver sustained serious internal injuries.

Mr Ogilvy told Vera his family was grateful for his guilty pleas, and while he needed to be punished, a New Zealand prison was not the place for him.

He also told the court that his mother's death had severely impacted his father, who was not in good health, and had depended a great deal on his wife of 56 years. His health had deteriorated since her death.

Yvonne Chapman, a sister of Marion Andrew, did not want to see Vera jailed either.

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"That won't bring her back, and I want you to be able to return to your family," she said.

She asked Judge Orchard to impose a fine, with the money to be spent on signs and road markings around Houhora to remind drivers to keep left.

"It is heart-breaking that her life was taken so cruelly," another sister, Gloria Weston, said.

She asked for a "strong sentence", adding that she wanted to see overseas drivers compelled to undertake a practical test, provide evidence of significant driving experience and knowledge of New Zealand's road rules before being granted an international licence.

Judge Orchard noted that Mrs Ogilvy had been thinking of others "to the end", offering comfort to the driver of the car in which she had been travelling, who was afraid of flying, even as they were being placed in the rescue helicopter.

She also had kind words for the defendant, who, after checking that his partner, who had been his passenger, was all right, offered what aid and comfort he could to the occupants of the other car.

"You were clearly devastated by the consequences of the accident," she said.

"You were, and are, wracked with guilt and filled with remorse. In reality you have already held yourself accountable."