"Six months for a life."

It was a widely-echoed sentiment in Wellington District Court this morning, a bitter pill to swallow for the loved ones of a young man killed by a woman driving the wrong way on the motorway.

Kathleen Valda Grey, 72, today received a six-month community detention sentence with a curfew of 7pm-7am for killing 25-year-old Samuel Jackson-Seligman Lemaire as he rode his motorbike to his mother's house in the early hours of December 29.

READ MORE: Wrong-way driver on Wellington motorway sentenced for killing motorcyclist

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She was also disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay $3000 reparations, but family say the sentence doesn't discourage other drivers from making bad decisions behind the wheel.

Kathleen Valda Grey, 72, in the dock at Wellington District Court for sentencing on careless driving causing death of Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Kathleen Valda Grey, 72, in the dock at Wellington District Court for sentencing on careless driving causing death of Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

"We're really disappointed," said mum Lisa Lemaire after the sentencing.

"We just think for the way Mrs Grey drove that night, she's not been held accountable for taking our son's life."

Grey drove 800km that day, leaving from the top of the North Island and making her way down to Wellington to catch a ferry to the South Island. It's not sure exactly when she got to the capital, but the trip takes about 11 hours.

But after arriving at the ferry terminal and realising she had time to spare, Grey made a decision that would rob Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's family of a doting father, loving fiance and cherished friend.

She decided to head back out for another drive - leading to her heading the wrong way on State Highway 1 for 13.5km before the crash near Johnsonville.

"She told the police she went for a drive because she was bored and she needed to kill time, and she killed my son instead," Lemaire said.

In court, Judge Bruce Davidson attributed the crash to fatigue, pointing to the fact Grey had driven the entire day and hadn't slept for many hours.

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Rawiri Green (left), Kiriwai Nuku, Heather Harris and Delwyn Broughton hold a box containing their loved one Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's ashes. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Rawiri Green (left), Kiriwai Nuku, Heather Harris and Delwyn Broughton hold a box containing their loved one Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's ashes. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

The decision to go out for another drive has bewildered Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's loved ones - as has the law that prevented police from ordering a blood test for Grey.

While Grey passed an alcohol breath test, family wanted to know why a blood test screening for drugs hadn't been done.

A police spokeswoman told the Herald police and doctors did not see any evidence to suggest Grey was under the influence of any type of drug, which meant they did not have grounds to take a blood test.

Lemaire said the way the law treated drivers in New Zealand was too "casual", and said the road toll would not come down until changes - such as harsher sentencing - were made.

"We didn't want her hung, drawn and quartered, we didn't want her jailed, but we wanted her to be held accountable, because her driving that night was really far from what any kind of Kiwi would find was acceptable.

"I don't think the road toll will ever come down until people see other people starting to be held accountable."

Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire was funny and big-hearted, his family says. Photo / Facebook
Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire was funny and big-hearted, his family says. Photo / Facebook

The family also shared memories of their "lovable rogue", describing him as funny, big-hearted, and caring.

Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire, who had connections to Black Power, was respected by his enemies, his mother said.

Loved ones shared fond memories of him making a toasted sandwich with a clothes iron - a trick he learned in prison - and said he was the type of person who hated being alone.

"He was a bit of a ratbag, our son, but nobody ever closed the door on him," Lemaire said.

"We probably tried to sometimes but he would come in through the window."