A learner driver under the influence of cannabis who killed a car enthusiast, father and grandfather asked to be sent to jail this afternoon.

And Judge Kevin Phillips obliged.

But he made it clear to the victim Stuart Ernest Windle's family that his hands were tied by the charges the police laid - in this case careless driving causing death and five of causing injury.

Warrick Delaney Taylor (23) was sentenced to five months imprisonment at the Dunedin District Court this afternoon.

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Judge Phillips told the family three months was the maximum he could impose on each charge.

Taylor had smoked cannabis before and while driving his friend from Oamaru to Dunedin.

He was a learner driver in an unlicensed and unregistered vehicle and was making the return leg when tragedy struck.

"A tragedy you manufactured," the judge said.

While driving the "undulating hills" between Waitati and Waikouaiti, Taylor crossed the centreline and crashed head on with Windle and his wife.

The Kaikoura couple were heading to a car rally in their 1937 Ford Cabriolet affectionately dubbed "Piglet".

Windle died at the scene while his wife Glynis sat beside him.

She told the court they had been all set to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary a few days after the crash.

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"I've been deprived of a life we planned and were looking forward to in retirement," she said while reading her victim-impact statement.

The couple had been planning their retirement in Christchurch and, on the day of the crash, concrete had been poured at the site where they were going to settle down.

It was part of their 10-year plan, Windle said.

What hurt most, she told the court, was the fact she had been robbed of saying a final goodbye to her husband.

"How proud I was of the life we shared together," she said.

Mr and Mrs Windle were planning a trip to Brisbane at the end of June to see friends.

Instead, those friends came to New Zealand for the funeral.

Windle's daughter Janelle - mother of his three grandchildren - labelled Taylor "scum".

"I wish it was one of his own friends that died that night," she said.

"He murdered my dad and should be locked away for life."

The victim's other daughter Cherie spoke of the recipe for disaster concocted by the defendant due to his drug taking and opting to drive in a car which was not roadworthy.

"You were a bullet waiting to be fired," she said.

Defence counsel Andrew Dawson said his client agreed with the family of the victim - he should have been the one who died.

"That's very clearly his view," he said.

Taylor had not consumed alcohol or drugs since the incident, Dawson said, and did not plan to in future.

As well as the prison term, Judge Phillips banned the 23-year-old from driving for three years and ordered him to pay $2355 reparation.