The mother of a teenager killed in a triple fatal crash in Hamilton says she doesn't know when she will ever come to terms with what happened.
Hayley Ellwood got to speak to her daughter's killer face to face in the High Court at Hamilton today where she told Reuben William Maharaj that she didn't hate him - but only because she didn't want that hate to consume her and ultimately "destroy" her.
Maharaj, of Glenfield, was sentenced on multiple manslaughter charges and a driving charge after the horrific crash on Avalon Drive, Hamilton, just over three years ago.
In June, he pleaded guilty to three charges of manslaughter of Jeremy Kay, 47, and Tania Kay, 44, and Grace Hill, 16, and one charge of dangerous driving causing injury to Mitchell Kay.
Outside court after Maharaj was sentenced to a mental health facility, Kay said it was good to get the court proceedings sorted.
"I think it's just good to get it done really, it's been a long time coming. We can't really expect to have someone sit in jail for the rest of their life when something else is going on upstairs that no one else really understands.
"It's just good to get it over with, really."
He said it didn't sound as though a prison term would ultimately help him, and he'd probably only go on to hurt himself or someone else again.
"He's got to fix himself before anything else can happen."
He had forgiven Maharaj for what happened as it was "too hard to hold onto hate, there's no point, it's easier just to forget and carry on".
Grace Hill's mother, Hayley Ellwood, said she now hoped to a year's worth of sleep
"It's a chapter we can close now which is good. It's taken a long time to get this far and it's a relief to have it finally done. We accept the court's decision, he's going to get the help that he needs."
She would now start working on healing herself.
"I think this day has been on my mind since it happened ... so, I just want to sleep now, for a year."
Facing Maharaj in court was "tough", but he was "clearly a very sick person".
"Here's hoping he gets the help that he needs and this doesn't happen to anyone else".
She hoped with the impending festive period that people would take care on the roads as she felt sorry for the first responders who attended her daughter's crash.
The crash: November 11, 2018
Mitchell Kay had just gone to pick up his parents and girlfriend, Hill, from a 21st birthday just after midnight on November 11.
At the same time, Maharaj, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but was unmedicated at the time, had earlier fled from his parents in one of their vehicles from their North Shore home after an argument.
Other motorists had noticed Maharaj's "aggressive" driving on the journey south before he entered Avalon Drive.
About 800m south of the roundabout, Maharaj, now aged 35, accelerated and drove with a sudden or sharp swerve, crossing the centre line into the oncoming northbound traffic and collided with the Holden Trax being driven by Kay.
Witnesses described seeing a "big puffy [sic] of black smoke" coming out of Maharaj's exhaust, and he appeared to be speeding up, before he was seen driving on the wrong side of the road.
Kay was in his correct lane, driving about 78km/h, and tried to take evasive action, by braking and swerving. The vehicles ultimately collided, killing his parents and girlfriend.
Kay was hospitalised with a cracked vertebra, a fractured skull, broken collar bone and bruised lungs.
When spoken to by emergency services, Maharaj acknowledged that he had struck Kay's vehicle and apologised for their deaths.
He said he had left his home as he was having "problems with his life situation and just wanted to get away after an argument with his parents", the court summary of facts stated.
I won't let the hate consume me
Hayley Ellwood, Grace's mother, was one of many to either read or have her victim impact statement read to the court.
She said she didn't hate Maharaj but that was only because she didn't want that hate to ultimately consume and then "destroy" her.
"For the past 34 months I have wondered what it would be like to be in a courtroom and stand in front of the person that was responsible for taking the life of my special daughter and her friends.
"What might come as a surprise to many people is that I can't hate this person.
"I can't hate this person who damaged her so much she was unrecognisable.
"The hate would destroy me and I don't want to give them the satisfaction of that.
"You have taken away one of the greatest joys of my life. She had so much to give and she
didn't deserve what you did to her."
Ellwood said she had been numb every day since the crash, but said it was easier to tell everyone that she was okay rather than face the reality of what she had lost.
She now hated driving and feared that a car would swerve into hers as Maharaj's did to Kay's vehicle. She also gets triggered by hearing emergency sirens, and still endured nightmares.
Ellwood also expressed her anger at Maharaj having dragged the case through the court system, and said he could have pleaded guilty earlier but instead chose to prolong the stress on the family.
'Unaware of the misery that would result'
Maharaj's counsel Ron Mansfield tried to explain the delays in his client's sentencing to those affected by his actions.
He said at the centre of it was his acute mental health condition – schizophrenia – and getting him assessed and treated and whether he would be fit for trial.
The psychiatric report ultimately found that a defence of insanity was available to Maharaj, but he instead chose to plead guilty for what he's done.
Despite his condition, the reality of what he'd done was still a shock to those that knew him - and the misery which would result when leaving his family home that fateful night.
"When you look into what we know about the defendant it's hard to understand.
[At the time] he was 32 years old, university qualified and had worked as professional ... could be described as gentle and caring son who could end up before this court on such serious charges having caused that kind of harrowing loss."
He had been a regular member of society until his diagnosis in 2013; having studied at university before taking up a job. No previous convictions.
He had been fortunate to have parents who had supported him through his illness and subsequent offending.
"No one thought that when he left that address that night that this kind of misery might result, and he didn't [either]."
He pushed for Justice Harland to sentence his client to a mental health treatment facility rather than a prison, so that he could get the appropriate care that he needed.
"Everyone acknowledges that this man is sick and he requires ongoing treatment … not prison."
Actions have had devastating impact on victims - judge
Justice Harland praised Mitchell Kay for his stance towards Maharaj; stating he would forgive him if his remorse was real and that he seek help.
She also appreciated the grief Ellwood must be going through, having lost her husband in "tragic circumstances" seven years prior to the crash.
The most important part of her sentencing was to protect the community and ensure he could get rehabilitation and she accepted that his remorse was genuine.
Despite being also traumatised by what happened, Maharaj was keen to receive the psychiatric help that he needed.
She noted that it had been contended that his mental health disorder had been "poorly or undertreated" prior to the crash.
After taking a starting point of 10 years' prison, she handed down a variety of discounts coming to a final end sentence of four years and five months' prison.
However, given his fragile mental health state that would be served in a facility where he could receive treatment by mental health services.
She noted that although his risk of reoffending was low, his risk of harm to others was high.
He was also disqualified from driving indefinitely.
History of suicide attempts
Maharaj had been hospitalised on multiple occasions since 2013 complaining of voices in his head.
He had on more than one occasion driven his vehicle dangerously in response to the voices.
On August 8, 2015, Maharaj had requested mental health services at North Shore DHB to get in touch with him on his cellphone.
He reported driving faster than the speed limit the previous night and had thoughts of driving into a traffic island. He had driven outside road markings due to being angry and frustrated at the voices in his head.
And a month later, on September 5, he drove his vehicle into a concrete wall.
Again, he told health services he did that due to the voices in his head. He was also unmedicated at the time.