A drink driver who killed his mate and injured two others in a high-speed crash was celebrating getting out of jail the morning he caused the horrific crash.
Shane Lennane-Hohepa's mother Janine told the High Court at Hamilton today that she was still angry with Cameron Thomas for not heeding the repeated pleas from his passengers to stop as he fled police at speed through the streets of Cambridge.
Instead, the court heard how the vehicle Thomas, 35, was driving hit a parked car and become airborne - a police officer following behind noticed the front of the car going straight up in the air before landing and rolling several times before coming to rest about 170m down the road on September 27, last year.
Lennane-Hohepa, a back seat passenger, died at the scene. Two other passengers, Fred Daley, who owned the BMW, and his partner Brooke Whitehead, were also seriously injured. Whitehead was thrown from the car, landing on her back on the road while Daley was trapped in the car by his leg.
Thomas was today jailed for six years and six months by Justice Simon Moore on two charges of reckless driving causing injury, manslaughter and failing to render assistance.
He imposed a minimum non-parole period of 50 per cent - or three years and three months' prison.
Thomas was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
The crash occurred on Scott St, near the intersection with Moore St, in Leamington.
On the morning of the crash, Thomas was freed from Waikeria Prison having served a jail term for burglary, one of 58 convictions he'd amassed over the years.
On his way to catch up with his friend, Daley, he picked up a box of pre-mixed bourbon and began drinking with his other friends and flatmates, Whitehead, Lennane-Hohepa, and Lennane-Hohepa's sister, Tui.
Daley arrived home from work to find the group drinking. Thomas then asked to borrow his vehicle to get more alcohol and when questioned about whether he had his licence back, Thomas said he had.
After arriving back, Thomas said he wanted to go and buy some cannabis. Lennane-Hohepa, Whitehead and Daley joined him in the trip to Cambridge.
Thomas was first spotted speeding by an off duty cop on Marychurch Rd and was seen going up to 100kmh around a 55kmh advisory corner before speeding off up to 130kmh.
A patrol car soon came across the vehicle in the Cambridge suburb of Leamington and activated its flashing lights. His passengers, including Daley and Lennane-Hohepa, repeatedly asked Thomas to stop.
Ignoring their pleas, Thomas put his foot down and drove straight through two give-way signs, reaching speeds Daley estimated to be up to 180kmh.
"Things were just flying past," Daley told police. "I would estimate the car to be travelling about 180km/h. That's what it felt like anyway."
As Thomas continued to speed, Lennane-Hohepa pleaded with him to stop.
"Just f****** stop man, f****** stop"," he was heard saying prior Thomas losing control and the car becoming airborne and flipping, end to end, up to six times.
Unlike his passengers, Thomas escaped relatively unscathed after the crash. When questioned by the officer he said he fled because he didn't have a licence.
Shortly afterwards, a member of the public saw Thomas leaving the scene. He was arrested a short time later.
When breath tested by police, Thomas blew 501mcgs. The legal limit is 250mcg.
Justice Moore said most of those convictions were driving related, including reckless driving, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to render assistance and drink driving.
He said Thomas, who was tearful and at times buried his head in jersey as he sat in the dock, had been a "persistent threat" to the community through his driving for years.
While he didn't doubt that Thomas grieved for his friends he accepted crown prosecutor Ross Douch's submission that he lacked any true remorse for what happened and said the community needed to be protected from him.
He said it was clear that the three courses he completed in prison - drug and alcohol counselling, Smart Choices and the Power of Positive Change - had no effect on him given he was freed only to go on and get behind the wheel drunk again.
Justice Moore found the only mitigating feature in Thomas' case was his early guilty plea.
A pre sentence report found Thomas only attended two restorative justice hearings so that he could get a discount on his sentence, after making the comment to the report writer.
Thomas was supported in court by his sister, while several members of Lennane-Hohepa's family were in court to hear him get jailed, including his mother and sisters.
Janine Hohepa was supported by two of her daughters as she read her victim impact statement to the court.
Her son was the fourth oldest of nine children.
"He did not deserve to be so cruelly taken. I struggle daily to come to the realisation that I have live the rest of my life with this pain without my child. I try to find the words how Shane's loss has impacted my life but there are no words to describe the pain and anger that I felt.
"Being happy doesn't feel right anymore ... the feeling of despair becomes so overwhelming that initially takes my breath away."
She said it had been seven months since she'd lost her son, but the grief hadn't' got any easier.
"If you had listened to the passengers to stop the car my son would still be here today. But no, you didn't listen to your friends, you didn't listen to them when they were screaming at you 'stop, stop, the police are chasing you' ... if you had stopped I would still have my son with me today," she told Thomas.
Outside court, she said was relieved that it was finally over.
"I wanted him to get more but the judge did his job, so I'm happy. I'm happy it's over."
She didn't want Thomas to ever get his licence back.
"He's a danger to the community and they know it. He's not going to listen."
She said she was annoyed to hear Thomas only did the restorative justice to try and get a discount on his sentence, but she still felt better having the chance to meet him.
"I was a little bit annoyed but I feel better in myself. It wasn't about him, it was about me wanting to know some information like 'why didn't you go back and save them', 'why didn't you help' but he lied anyway ... when he ran back and he helped. He didn't even."
Shane's sister, Ebony Lennane, was happy with the sentence handed down.
"I didn't come to the court hearing angry ... I'm happy with what he got."
She said some of her siblings were still struggling to deal with their brother's loss but she was hoping the family would now get some closure.
"I've been waiting for this day for so long, just so that we could move on I suppose and just remember him and not having to think about having to come and do this. So we can just move on now."