A man killed in a crash by a driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol was planning to start a family with his partner of 13 years - and had been to a fertility clinic hours earlier to begin the journey.

It has also been revealed the killer driver had been pulled over and fined by police earlier that day for dangerous driving behaviour.

Stephen John McPherson, 36, was killed on May 24 as he rode home from work in Onehunga to his Pukekohe home.

He died after a ute driven by William Junior Conrad crossed the centreline and hit his motorcycle head on.


Conrad had consumed alcohol and methamphetamine before he drove that night.

Stephen McPherson was killed in a crash caused by a driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Photo / Supplied
Stephen McPherson was killed in a crash caused by a driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Photo / Supplied

He later admitted three charges relating to McPherson's death - dangerous driving causing death, causing death while driving with excess breath alcohol and causing the death of a person while in control of a vehicle while his blood contained a controlled substance.

The night of the crash Conrad got into his Ford ute and left his home.

He was driving on Helvetia Rd between Birdwood Rd and Gun Club Rd at about 8.22pm when he crossed the centreline and ploughed into McPherson who was travelling towards him.

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The crash happened in a 100km/h speed zone.

McPherson took evasive action but could not avoid a head-on collision.

He was thrown from his motorcycle and landed in a paddock some distance away.


Conrad's ute came to rest nose down in a ditch on the side of the road, McPherson's motorcycle pinned underneath the front.

Conrad was taken to hospital and at 10.20pm a blood sample was taken for testing.

That testing showed Conrad had an alcohol level of 138 micrograms per 100 millilitres of blood.

The legal limit is 50 micrograms of alcohol.

He also had methamphetamine in his system.

When spoken to by police after the crash, Conrad said he had consumed seven or eight Heineken beers at home before driving "to get bread".

He said he did not recall the crash.

He was sentenced in the Manukau District Court today by Judge Anna Johns.

The public gallery was full for sentencing, with members of McPherson's family on one side and his killer's supporters on the other.

Bereft partner: I wish I died that night

Judge Anna Johns heard eight victim impact statements, starting with McPherson's partner Rebecca Smidt.

Holding an item of McPherson's clothing close to her chest, she spoke clearly across the courtroom about her loss.

"I wish I died that night," she said.

"Part of me was killed right then and I feel like I will never ever recover… 13 years of being together all the time, wiped out in an instant.

"Now I am alone."

Smidt said she could not eat or sleep, she was struggling in all parts of her life and every day was "agonising".

She and McPherson were trying to have a child and were about to embark on IVF treatment to create their much-wanted family.

The morning of the crash McPherson had dropped samples at a fertility clinic.

Now, Smidt says becoming a mother is a dream "destroyed".

"I lost my rock," she told the court.

"He was a wonderful innocent man simply trying to come home from work.

"So many people are affected by this and we all have life sentences that we never wished for…. Every second is agonising… I am extremely lonely all the time."

Smidt, flanked by her sister as she read, said "nothing will ever be the same" without her soulmate.

"Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, every single thing that was fun and happy… I feel like I will never be happy again," she said.

"Stephen was my everything."

Smidt's mother Ruth and sister Emma also read statements.

They spoke of losing a man who was part of their family, seeing his partner suffer and the "disgusting" actions of Conrad.

"The loss of Steve, is always top of mind… all we wish for is Steve to be here… the anguish of feeling this is unbearable," Smidt's sister said.

McPherson's sister Nicola said her grief impacted "all aspects" of her life and she was engulfed by feelings of guilt, anger and depression.

"He died alone in the dark… no one had the chance to say goodbye, no one had the chance to tell him how important and special he is… tell him we loved him," she said, before turning her thoughts to Conrad.

"Your decision killed Stephen and has destroyed so many other lives."

She said she had an "overwhelming sense of regret" for not telling her brother how much she loved him.

"I feel guilty that Stephen was the one to die, if one of us had to die it should have been me… I live overseas, my family do not see me every day… Stephen was dad's best mate… I don't have children… Stephen should still be here."

She said she struggled to sleep and was haunted by McPherson's last moments - him being hit by Conrad's ute and dying alone in the dark on the country road.

"I'm not sure you will ever truly understand what you have done… I just wish you had never driven that night and this had never happened."

McPherson's other sister Jane said Conrad had destroyed every person in her family and even her young children were impacted.

"You killed my brother, four months later I still find this incredibly hard to believe," she said.

"I hope that you think of what you did every single day, I hope you think of my brother every day."

She said McPherson "absolutely loved life" and had his whole life ahead of him.

"No one wants to think of someone they love dying alone, frightened and in so much pain - but this is the situation you have left us in," she said.

She then blasted Conrad.

"You were wasted, this was a deliberate act, you made a decision… you knew you were completely wasted and shouldn't have been driving, but you did anyway."

McPherson's mother Sue read the final statement.

She spoke of identifying her son's body, her daughters carrying their brother's coffin.

"Every single night I go to bed but I don't sleep…. As soon as I close my eyes I am haunted by what might have happened," she said through tears.

"I hear Stephen's screams, Stephen hitting the road… you didn't even know you'd hit him.

"His death has left a gaping hole in our family… I am angry, very angry… I miss my boy every single minute of every single day.

"My family is paying the price of your utterly selfish decision to drive.

"I can never forget or never forgive you for what you've done."

Killer driver 'deeply sorry'

Conrad's lawyer Asta Gold said he had "a complete lack of recollection" of the crash.

She said he was "determined" to plead guilty early and take responsibility for his fatal actions.

"He felt for this family, he didn't want to prolong any of this any longer than necessary," Gold said.

Conrad wrote a letter to the court apologising to the McPherson family.

The letter stated he was "deeply sorry" and said driving the night of the crash was the "worst decision I ever made".

He said he was "in a dark place" at the time and had since started drug and alcohol counselling which was helping him.

"I know there is nothing I can do or say to ease the pain but I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart and I know I will never do this again," he said.

Gold said Conrad's marriage had broken down after the crash and he was working hard to get his life back on track.

Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan said it was a "tragedy waiting to happen".

He revealed Conrad had been ticketed by police earlier the day of the crash for using a cellphone while driving.

Conrad also has a previous conviction for drink driving in 2011.

But that did not stop him drinking a significant amount before driving - and smoking a quantity of meth.

A killer jailed

Judge Johns read the summary of facts in court, which some of McPherson's family had not heard until today.

They were deeply upset to hear the details of his death.

Judge Johns described the fatal incident as "terrible".

"Your actions have had a devastating effect... particularly on his partner Rebecca," she said.

She added she admired the "bravery" of everyone who read their impact statements in court.

"The New Zealand Government spend millions of dollars on campaigns... But still, we have a staggering road toll where alcohol and drugs are involved," she said.

"You were nearly three times over the legal limit, so that is a powerful aggravating factor.

"You had received an infringement notice that day, and you have a number of infringement notices for speed and the like."

Judge Johns set a starting point of four years and two months in prison.

She gave Conrad a discount for his early guilty plea, remorse, steps taken to address his drug and alcohol issues and the impact on him personally.

"I accept that you are truly remorseful and sorry for what took place and your offending has also taken a huge toll on your family," she said.

"You have suffered from depression as a result... you will carry the burden of killing Stephen McPherson every day for the rest of your life."

Judge Johns sentenced Conrad to two years and eight months in prison.

She also disqualified the 36-year-old from driving for four years from today's date.

Defence attempts to block media in court

Conrad's lawyer had earlier tried to block the Herald from filming and photographing him at sentencing.

She argued that it would not serve any purpose "other than to subject him to public humiliation".

And, she argued that he would suffer "undue hardship" from the publicity due to his mental state.

However, in a decision released in August, Judge Mina Wharepouri ruled that there was no evidence to support that claim and the Herald should not be prevented in being "the reporting eyes and ears of the public".