An Auckland teen has been sentenced to home detention over a drunken beach crash which killed a popular student.
Regan Colin Hutchison Baxter, 18, was first charged with dangerous driving causing injury but on July 16 police added three more charges - driving dangerously causing death, failing to stop or ascertain injury and excess breath alcohol for a person under 20.
On July 18 he pleaded guilty to all the charges and today was sentenced in the North Shore District Court.
The charges stemmed from an incident which occurred shortly after midnight on June 24 at Rothesay Bay.
Baxter was driving a Toyota Hilux carrying seven others - in the cab and on the tray - and was showing off by performing doughnuts on the Rothesay Bay beach.
The ute rolled and crashed.
Baxter panicked and fled the scene as his injured passengers lay on the sand.
He later returned, but one of the young men was critically injured. It was 17-year-old Robbie Cederwall.
He died in hospital two days later.
Today, Robbie's father Tony Cederwall read an emotional statement to the court.
"My reason for speaking today is to tell you how Robbie's death has affected his family and friends," he said.
His son, he said, was enjoying one of the happiest years of his life.
Robbie was a prefect and student leader at Rangitoto College. He was a proud New Zealand Samoan, who, despite being born with clubbed feet, became a talented member of the dance group, Tony Cederwall added.
The father, choking back tears and comforting his daughter, said his boy volunteered every Saturday at the Salvation Army and delivered Christmas hampers.
He told the court he would fondly remember camping trips with Robbie, who was going to study at Victoria University.
"A beautiful boy ... He was my best friend," Cederwall said.
"No parent should have to go through what I've been through, no parent should have to bury their child."
Cederwall's nights are now filled with replays of the last hours of his son's life.
"Every night is filled with nightmares and flashbacks," he said.
"Two policemen knocking on my door to say Robbie had been in car accident and may not survive ... Memories of the doctors telling me he wasn't going to survive. Memories of his funeral and memories of having to bury him.
"How much pain he must've been in before he died."
He said since his son's funeral there had been an outpouring of support but also an overwhelming feeling of anger.
"How did this happen? Why did someone drive drunk?" he asked.
"Why did this person do doughnuts and after rolling the vehicle run off and leave Robbie on the beach to die?
"The truth is it wasn't an accident, something was always going to happen ... Drink driving and doing doughnuts on the beach, with eight people, it was always going to end in tears."
Turning to Baxter in the dock, he said: "I know you didn't mean to kill Robbie but the fact is that he is dead."
Cederwall asked the young man, whose slim build bent solemnly as his head bowed, to "live on to a higher standard, Robbie's standard".
"I don't want to hear that you're on drugs or have been caught drink-driving again."
The father asked Judge Jonathan Down to send a message of deterrence to young people one which says "that they know it's not okay to drink drive and put others at risk".
"Many people have asked me what I think the sentence should be, I have said 'I only ask that the sentence is fair'.
"I know nothing can bring Robbie back - his death is permanent and nothing is going to bring him back."
Robbie's vital organs were donated and have saved the lives of five others.
Robbie's mum also said in a written statement she did not want prison life to be part of Baxter's narrative.
As a mother, she said, she wanted to limit "any further harm to all the victims of this tragedy".
"I am writing to request leniency in sentence," she said.
"Robbie is not here to speak but those who loved him are."
Judge Down said while Baxter was the driver, had provided the ute, and made a "stupid decision", he was part of "a group of young people carried away in excitement".
"Doing something which they all thought would be enormously fun but in reality was incredibly dangerous."
The judge said the case was one which is "tragic and creates in everyone's mind involved in such a case and such a hearing of feelings of being torn between one option or the other".
"Be it justice on one hand and mercy on the other," he said.
Judge Down said there would be no further benefit to be gained by sending him to prison, which he said could cause devastating effects upon his future.
"It would be cruel [just to] send a slightly stronger message to the community," he said.
Baxter will serve a maximum one year of home detention, 200 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for two years.