A teenager whose drinking and texting led to a fatal smash has been ordered to do community work in the town where the elderly couple he killed were well known.
Christchurch District Court Judge John Bisphan said he was imposing "a sentence of some magnitude" for what was described as a tragic and devastating smash.
Robert Stonestreet, of Ashburton, will also have to pay $10,000 to the family of the dead couple, and faces home detention and a long driving ban, as well as counselling for alcohol abuse.
The 19-year-old dairy worker went through a stop sign while texting after a night of eating and drinking with friends. He killed Beverley and Samuel Keating when he ploughed into their vehicle. They were returning home from their 49th wedding anniversary celebration.
At an earlier appearance in Ashburton District Court, Stonestreet had admitted two charges of excess blood-alcohol driving causing death.
Defence counsel James Rapley said Stonestreet was genuinely shocked and remorseful and was finding it difficult to live with his feelings. He had an easy going and bubbly personality but was now reserved and quiet. He attended a meeting with two of the family members which was very emotional, but the Keating family were forgiving and understanding.
Crown Prosecutor Andrew McRae said that home detention was appropriate, and he suggested that any community work imposed should be done in the Ashburton area where the Keatings were held in very high regard.
Stonestreet was on a restricted licence, his alcohol level was one milligram over the adult level which, because of his age, put him well over the youth drink-drive limit.
"There is nothing I can do or say that can undo what has happened. This was an unnecessary loss of two lives. In sentencing you I have to deter you from doing this again, and denounce what has happened and in some small way give some solace to the victims," said Judge Bisphan.
He could not understand why people texted with cellphones at all hours and said lawmakers could consider making the use of cellphones while driving illegal.
Judge Bisphan read out some of the Keating children's victim impact statement. They said they held no animosity towards Stonestreet, who needed an opportunity to get on with his life.
And they did not want to be party to any harsh sentence as it would not help anyone. They were not seeking reparation.
"I think a sentence of some magnitude is appropriate," Judge Bisphan told Stonestreet.
He sentenced him to nine months' home detention, disqualification from driving for two years six months, and 200 hours' community work.
He said the Keatings were well known in the Ashburton area and he hoped the community work would be done where they had an interest.
"The children don't want money, but I am awarding them $2500 each for emotional harm. They can pay it to a charity or a good cause as they wish. It should be part of the penalty you should pay," he told Stonestreet. The payment will total $10,000.
Judge Bisphan ordered Stonestreet to attend counselling for alcohol abuse.