A Rotorua man has been sentenced for careless driving causing the death of someone who "meant the world to her family".

Benjamin William Richardson, 27, pleaded guilty in June to careless driving causing the death of former Tauranga woman Aleshia McGrath.

McGrath died at the scene of the crash, which happened south of Rotorua on October 19 last year.

At a court appearance on September 11, Richardson was sentenced to 250 hours of community work and disqualified from holding or obtaining a drivers' licence for nine months.


McGrath, 40, who had recently moved to Galatea, had been driving her Mazda Familia on State Highway 5 shortly before 6pm when Richardson's Nissan Wingroad, which was travelling north towards Rotorua, collided with her car.

A police summary of facts, released to the Rotorua Daily Post said the cars were approaching an easy corner about 1.4km south of the intersection with State Highway 30 when Richardson crossed into the path of McGrath's vehicle.

Richardson did not brake or try to avoid the crash.

He later told police he had no recollection of what happened immediately before the crash or what caused him to cross onto the wrong side of the road, the summary said.

Aleshia McGrath died in a car crash south of Rotorua. Photo / Supplied
Aleshia McGrath died in a car crash south of Rotorua. Photo / Supplied

McGrath's grandmother Lois Wood told the Rotorua Daily Post multiple members of the family were at the sentencing and the outcome was what they had expected.

"We didn't expect anything more ... None of us wanted to see him go to jail but felt in the early stages [of the investigation] we were let down In terms of knowing what was going on."

Wood said McGrath was important to both family and friends.

"She meant the world to the family and she meant a great deal for her work colleagues."


Richardson's case was dragged out because he waited on test results to determine if he had a sleep disorder before entering a plea.

His lawyer, Brian Foote, told the court earlier this year that Richardson had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but he didn't want to rely on that as a defence in his case and wanted to plead guilty.

He was meant to have pleaded to the charge in April and the delay was frustrating for McGrath's family, Wood said.

"We went to Rotorua in April to find out what was going on. From October to April we never had a clue."

Members of McGrath's family read victim impact statements in the court.