It took a jury of seven women and five men just under seven hours to find the driver of a car involved in a street race that ended in the deaths of four people guilty of manslaughter.

Dylan Cossey, 20, was found guilty on all six charges laid after the 2016 crash. His passenger, Stephen John Jones, also 20, was found not guilty of manslaughter after a week-long trial in the High Court at Hamilton, but guilty of failing to stop and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The pair were charged with the manslaughter of Hamilton woman Hannah Leis Strickett-Craze, 24, Paul De Silva, 20, and Lance Robinson, 28, both of Te Awamutu, and Jason McCormick Ross, 19, of Stratford by way of illegal street racing. A van driver was also seriously injured. He has name suppression.

The crash happened on Ohaupo Rd, at the intersection of Ingram Rd, outside Hamilton Airport, on June 24, 2016, when Robinson lost control of his northbound Nissan Skyline and collided with the southbound van.

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Dylan Cossey faced charges over a crash which killed three men and one woman in Hamilton. Photo / File
Dylan Cossey faced charges over a crash which killed three men and one woman in Hamilton. Photo / File

The jury of five men and seven women began deliberations at 1.35pm yesterday. Family and media were told the jury had reached verdicts just after 11am today.

Cossey smirked when his verdict was read and his father and sister stormed out of the court.

Loud cries came from the victims' families in the public gallery.

Jones breathed a sigh of relief.

Jason McCormick Ross' family held this photo of him throughout the week long trial. Photo / Belinda Feek
Jason McCormick Ross' family held this photo of him throughout the week long trial. Photo / Belinda Feek

Cossey was also issued a three strikes warning as manslaughter is a qualifying violence offence.

Both Cossey and Jones were granted bail by Justice Hinton this afternoon.

Along with other conditions, Cossey was given a 24-hour curfew, while Jones is allowed to continue to work and has a curfew of between 7pm and 7am.

Narissa Ryan, who was Paul De Silva's partner at the time of the crash and mother of his 3-year-old child, said she was "very happy" with the verdicts.

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"It means they can all rest in peace now."

De Silva was an "absolute awesome guy", she said.

"He was a lovely giant, he made us all smile … I was absolutely in love with him and he got taken away from me, and my son."

Friend and godmother of the couple's 3-year-old child, Crystal Brownlee, said they were pleased with the verdicts, including Jones' not guilty for manslaughter.

"He wasn't the one with his foot on the accelerator."

Brownlee said young male drivers needed to "just wake up because there's too many of them out there doing ridiculous s***".

"Going out on the road doing skids, racing ... that's not what we want in New Zealand. We want a safe environment and safe roads for other people on the road. I just hope it's a wake up call for New Zealand in general … it should never have happened."

The pair didn't want to see either Jones or Cossey go to jail as they were too young and "had their whole lives ahead of them".

The family of Jason McCormick Ross said the only thing he did that night was to "trust a new acquaintance, Lance Robinson, with his life and become an innocent passenger in this man's vehicle".

"We are relieved with the outcome today and we [hope] that the 'boy racer community' reflects on this guilty verdict and comes to some conclusions that their illegal and criminal behaviour on our roads is not tolerated, and takes innocent, precious lives like that of my son."

They were not impressed with Jones' not guilty verdict for manslaughter.

"Stephen Jones' lesser charges in our minds in no way reflects his innocence but is merely a result of a jury unable to convict him without reasonable doubt."

Grace Kennedy, De Silva's aunt, said justice had been served.

"I feel like there is justice for what happened because you know deep down inside that there's no amount of things that will bring him back but you do feel like it's justice for what happened."

The week had been incredibly draining and tiring for all of the family, she said.

She was still angry at Cossey and Jones for not stopping after the crash.

"I just feel angry because it took so long for them to come forward. I would never want anybody to be left in that position of what they did to them. You know, you would pull over, that's what anyone would do."

Hannah Strickett-Craze's aunt, Tania Bowkett, said the verdicts wouldn't bring her niece back.

"Nothing changes for us, Hannah's still gone. There seems to be a little bit of, we now know what happened in the last half hour of her life. And what we do have is a little boy who is still growing up without his mother."

The past week had been "pretty hard" learning what happened that night in graphic detail.

"It's not something we will ever forget."

They had hoped to learn what happened but were also hoping for remorse.

"We hoped for remorse. I think we found the truth in a roundabout way, I don't think we got our remorse. I truly believe that there were things that were covered up and I think that shows quite clearly in the preventing justice guilty conviction."

Speaking on behalf of Robinson's family, best friend Courtney McGregor said she hoped Cossey and his friends learned a lesson from what happened.

"He was really, really smug the whole time, like this was just a big joke. We wanted him to learn a lesson, and let his friends learn a lesson and let us learn a lesson that you just have to take responsibility as well."

She said Robinson had only had "five cans" and that it wouldn't have impaired his driving.

"When it comes down to what was in his sytem, five cans, that's bugger all, really. There's no excuse but I'm just saying it would not have impaired him in anyway."

She described him as "the funniest man you would ever meet".

"He had big, big, big hands and bright blue eyes and was the life of the party … just constantly making you laugh. We all called him our big brother."

The trial, and the time since the crash, had been "horrendous" for his family, she said.

Cossey and Jones had denied four charges of manslaughter by means of illegally racing. They were also charged with operating a motor vehicle in a race or unnecessary exhibition of speed causing injury and failing to stop.

Narissa Ryan and Crystal Brownlee, friends of all four victims, say they don't want either accused jailed, but an apology would be good. Photo / Belinda Feek
Narissa Ryan and Crystal Brownlee, friends of all four victims, say they don't want either accused jailed, but an apology would be good. Photo / Belinda Feek

Jones faced an additional charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice at Hamilton on June 28, 2016, after allegedly editing and shortening a film he took as the crash happened.

Grace Kennedy, Paul De Silva's aunt, speaks outside High Court at Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek
Grace Kennedy, Paul De Silva's aunt, speaks outside High Court at Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek

Cossey's lawyer Phil Morgan QC earlier told the jury the unquestionable issue was that Robinson drove "dangerously or recklessly and that he caused the deaths of the deceased".

"But it's stretching the law too far to say it's Mr Cossey who is guilty of manslaughter."

Family of Hannah Strickett-Craze, including her aunty Tanya Bowkett (pictured). Photo / Belinda Feek
Family of Hannah Strickett-Craze, including her aunty Tanya Bowkett (pictured). Photo / Belinda Feek

Jones' lawyer Russell Boot told the court on Friday that his client was "merely a passenger in the car" and did nothing more than film the Skyline's overtaking manoeuvre and then give it to police to help them.

Boot also said the blame for deaths lay at the feet of Robinson, who was driving with alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabis in his system.


The pair were convicted by Justice Anne Hinton and will be sentenced on April 20.