The bus driver who ran over two South Auckland men, killing both, has been sentenced to community work and disqualified from driving.

The grieving families of Taylor King, 23, and Jeremy KauKasi, 34, filled the public gallery of the Manukau District Court, their tears heard among an opening prayer.

Judge Soana Moala addressed the grieving families before she sentenced the 72-year-old driver, Ngatokoitu Tapora.

"You have waited a year for this day and I know you want justice," she said.

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"But I cannot give you what you really want.

"Nothing that happens today can bring back Jeremy or Taylor."

Judge Moala said she could feel the families looking to her with expectation.

"I know you are looking to me to make it better for you and I can't."

Any sentence imposed would be offensive given their loss and pain, she said.

"And I am sorry for that."

But the judge said she must abide by the Sentencing Act among other legal considerations and looked to the grieving parents to show leadership moving forward.

"I want this to be the final hearing. I want this to end today."

King and KauKasi were hit by a bus on Puhinui Rd on April 14 last year.

The two mates worked together at Altus Enterprises, a social enterprise that employs nearly 200 people with disabilities.

They had bought dinner together from Choice Takeaways and went to cross Wyllie Rd about 6.50pm.

Jeremy KauKasi and Taylor King worked together at Altus Enterprises. Photo / Altus Enterprises
Jeremy KauKasi and Taylor King worked together at Altus Enterprises. Photo / Altus Enterprises

As the green walking signal flashed the two men stepped on to the pedestrian crossing.

The bus driven by Tapora ran through a red light, running King and KauKasi over.

Prosecutor Abhiram Guda told the court witnesses spoke of seeing the men run over by the front and rear tyres.

"The defendant did not apply the brakes or attempt to stop immediately," he said.

It was a dark at the time of the crash but street lights illuminated the road.

Tapora continued to drive down the road for a short distance, he said.

It went "beyond a moment of inattention" given that Tapora continued to drive, he said.

Both men died at the scene.

The scene of the double fatal bus crash where a tribute was placed in memory of Taylor King and Jeremy KauKasi. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The scene of the double fatal bus crash where a tribute was placed in memory of Taylor King and Jeremy KauKasi. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Tapora's lawyer, Karl Trotter, said on the spectrum of careless driving the crash "squarely sits" at the end of "momentary inattention".

"She failed to see the red light, the red arrow."

Tapora maintained that she had seen a green light and has accepted she failed to clearly identify it for what it was - the pedestrian signal, he said.

"She has accepted that she must be wrong about what she saw."

Trotter told the court Tapora was a grandmother of 12, and great-grandmother to one, with a previously untarnished driving record.

She had been the sole provider to her family as a bus driver for 25 years.

Judge Moala said she accepted the driving failure arose from a moment's inattention.

"And that moment's inattention was your fault.

"Never did you imagine that you would do something like this," she said.

"From everything I have read you have been a good mother and a good grandmother."

Tapora had no prior criminal convictions, had pleaded guilty and shown remorse, Judge Moala said.

"People speak highly of you. Your church and your family speak highly of you."

Judge Moala sentenced her to 260 hours' community work and disqualified her from driving for 12 months on each charge.

She also ordered $4000 in reparations to the King family and $4000 to the KauKasi family.

Mothers' heartbreak

King's mother, Leanne, told the court that her boy was taken too soon.

"That was the hardest day of my life," she said.

"Why did it have to be you?"

King was only 23 and had a whole life ahead of him, she said.

"I would give anything to have you back in my arms again.

"I will miss you with all my heart and soul.

"You were not just my son but you were my best friend.

"And I will forever cherish the memories that we had together."

KauKasi's mother, Tumai, told the court she remembered receiving the call that no parent ever wanted to receive, "a call that literally teared my world into pieces".

"In those very few moments my heart has stopped.

"I couldn't breathe, I couldn't stand and I didn't want to believe it.

"It was my son."

The court heard her statement described her son as a generous and helpful man with a "big personality".

"He was very friendly, his laughter was like no other.

"He always had a smile from ear to ear. It was contagious.

"I wish I could tell my son I love him one more time.

"I wish I could get just one more hug."