The 20-year-old driver who admitted killing a man in Kaitaia's main street on January 12 was last week jailed for two and a half years.

Bayley Te Kohu Karena Goodhue appeared before Judge Greg Davis in the Kaitaia District Court on Friday for sentence on earlier convictions of driving with excess alcohol causing death, failing to stop to ascertain injury, driving whilst disqualified and an unrelated count of burglary.

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He was jailed for two and a half years on each of the first two convictions, and one month on the others, all to be served concurrently. He was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for two and a half years, after which he will be entitled to apply for a zero alcohol licence.

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Outstanding fines and fees of around $1700 were incorporated into the prison terms and were remitted.

Goodhue had admitted driving the car that clipped the traffic island in Kaitaia's main street at around 1am on January 12.

The car veered to the left, crashing into a bench on the footpath where 54-year-old Edward Waenga had seated himself seconds before. Mr Waenga died instantly, the car coming to a halt a few metres to the north, outside the Post Office.

Goodhue fled on foot, returning some 90 minutes later, having changed his clothes, telling police that he believed the car had been stolen and asking if he could take it away.

Crown prosecutor Kyle Macneil told the court that all involved were losers. Goodhue's family had lost him, while Mr Waenga's family had lost a husband, a son, a brother, a father and grandfather as a result of the defendant's "callous action".

Goodhue had been drunk when he was spoken to by a police officer, who saw him in the vehicle as a passenger several hours earlier, and reminded him that he was disqualified from driving.

"He was doing the right thing; he had a sober driver." Mr Macneil said.

Hours later he had driven the car himself, recording 936 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

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Mr Macneil sought a starting point for sentencing of five to five and a half years' imprisonment, with discounts for the defendant's early guilty plea (although the police had had a very strong case, and he had had little option but to admit his responsibility), his age and remorse.

Mr Waenga's family, he added, had forgiven Goodhue, which he described as "amazing".
Counsel Doug Blaikie produced a letter from the defendant, who had hoped that Mr Waenga's family would be represented in court so he could apologise to them in person.

He had not expected the family's extraordinary charity, which had "floored" and humbled him.

The letter, which was not read in court, showed a degree of maturing beyond the months his client had spent on remand, Mr Blaikie added, displaying a complete re-focusing of his attitude.

Goodhue, he said, had struggled with addiction from an early age, but had abstained from alcohol for a period before January 12. Having been told that his relationship was over, and worried about the future of his son, he had consumed alcohol on this occasion, but was determined to abstain when he was released.

He had not realised that he had hurt anyone in the crash, and it was only when he returned, hoping to secure his car, that he was told that someone had been killed. There was no evidence that he had been travelling at speed (although CCTV cameras had recorded him "roaring off" from the Mobil service station minutes before).

Judge Davis noted that Goodhue's criminal history included driving, dishonesty and drug convictions, but did not believe that warranted an uplift in sentence.

He did add four months to a starting point of four years for returning to the scene of the crash and trying to avoid responsibility, and another four months for the burglary (of a house at Ahipara in August 2015) however.

Goodhue received discounts for his participation in a restorative justice process with and sincere apology to Mr Waenga's family, his age and early guilty plea, for a final sentence of two and a half years.