A man who left his friend for dead after a Dunedin car crash has been released on parole with a year remaining on his sentence.

Shay Robert Richards, 22, was sentenced to three years three months' imprisonment after admitting a charge of reckless driving causing the death of 18-year-old Nakita May Strange and three of causing injury to other passengers in the car he was driving on July 29, 2015.

He appeared before the Parole Board last month from Rolleston Prison after completing the Drug Treatment Programme and other rehabilitative courses.

Richards was described as "polite and respectful'' and panel convener Tania Williams Blyth said he no longer posed an undue risk to the community.


Among his release conditions was a ban from entering Southland, after Nakita's family told the board they did not want him near Invercargill.

Nakita Strange, 18, died in the Dunedin crash, July 2015. Photo / Supplied
Nakita Strange, 18, died in the Dunedin crash, July 2015. Photo / Supplied

Richards had been picked up by a group driving from Invercargill to Christchurch.

He soon took over the driving and stole $75 of fuel from a service station before speeding off.

After a near miss, Richards ploughed through an intersection without slowing down, and hit a ute.

Despite noticing Nakita seriously injured in the back of the car, he left the scene.

Richards said he was going to call a taxi and later messaged friends asking them to call him.

Others involved in the crash also suffered severe consequences.

One of the victims had to relearn how to walk and sustained injuries to his jaw, hip, pelvis, spine, ribs, neck and bladder.


An attempt by Richards to have his sentence reduced because it was "manifestly excessive'' was later dismissed by the High Court.

The Parole Board heard Ms Strange's family wanted to meet the man whose actions led to the tragedy.

However, Richards said he would only do so once he was released and could attend with support.

He told the board "he used to bottle stuff up'' but now knew he had to let things out.

"It just depends on how you do that,'' he said.

His mindset, he said, was now positive.

Richards told the board he planned to work in the dairy industry on release.

Parole conditions

• Not to possess alcohol or non­prescriptions drugs (to submit to random testing)
• To attend any programme directed by Probation
• To live at an approved address
• To abide by a 9pm-6am curfew for the first three months of release
• Not to contact victims
• Not to enter Southland