A young mother who had methamphetamine in her system when she crashed her car, killing her 2-year-old daughter, is appealing her jail sentence.
Valencia Marie Skipper, 21, is currently serving a two years, six months jail term, after being found guilty of causing the death of her daughter while under the influence of methamphetamine.
But Skipper's lawyer, Madeleine Laracy, today told the Court of Appeal the jail sentence was too harsh and should be changed to home detention.
She argued that while there was meth in Skipper's system, it was a small amount and there was no evidence it directly caused the crash.
"The ESR analysis showed that this was an extremely low level of methamphetamine.
"That factor, and the fact that the ESR did not go so far as to draw any causative link between the level of the drug and the driver behaviour, that was a useful indicator for the judge that the lesser charge was the appropriate one.
"What is an issue, and what I say should have been the focus of a disputed facts hearing, is whether it could be said that that level of methamphetamine, consumed at some point in the past we don't know when, whether that could have had a causative effect on her driving."
Laracy said home detention was a more suitable sentence.
She said they'd found a possible home detention address with Skipper's mother.
Crown lawyer Meetra Wong acknowledged the sentence was "stern", and said they were open to the possibility of home detention.
But she said the conviction itself should not be changed.
"On the judge's finding there was some impairment, or some connection between the methamphetamine and the accident.
"But there was no finding that there was significant or serious impairment.
"The Crown accepts that the appellant was remorseful. This was a distressing, horrible event that happened to her.
"There's no disputing the fact that there were some personal features that warranted a discount, for mitigating features.
"The Crown says it was within the judge's discretion to [reduce sentence length by] 15 per cent.
"A different sentencing judge may have taken a more lenient approach and given a higher discount, but in our submission it didn't result in a manifestly excessive sentence."
Skipper was a forbidden driver when she lost control of a car she was driving on the Hawke's Bay Expressway on January 13, 2016.
Her daughter Sapphire Te Aroha Skipper-Hira was unrestrained in a child seat at the rear of the car. She was flung from the vehicle after it veered across the centre line into oncoming traffic and collided with the dirt bank of a ditch.
Witnesses described the vehicle suddenly "ricocheting" across the road with no explanation as to why this occurred.
Sapphire received significant injuries and died at the scene.
Skipper's 11-year-old sister was also in the car sitting in the front passenger seat and received minor injuries.
Blood analysis results confirmed Skipper's blood contained the class A controlled drug, methamphetamine. However the concentration was unspecified in the summary of facts.
The crash occurred on State Highway 50A between Omahu Rd and Flaxmere Ave just before 5pm. The weather conditions were fine and traffic was moderate.
The Court of Appeal judges have reserved their decision.