Rouxle Le Roux's home detention sentence has ended – but her guilt over hitting and killing 15-year-old Nathan Kraatskow in a car last year has not.
"The nightmares are less frequent but I don't stop thinking about him. You can wake up from a nightmare but this is the reality I face all the time," she told the Herald on Sunday in an exclusive interview.
"I killed Nathan – that will always be with me."
Le Roux was on a learner licence and had been drinking wine and smoking cannabis before she got behind the wheel of a friend's Mercedes-Benz and hit and killed Nathan at the Oteha Valley Rd off-ramp in Albany on May 18, 2018.
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She offered to drive, as she felt she was the "most sober". Her friend Sam suggested she take a different route to the one she was used to. When Le Roux crossed the intersection she saw a green light and felt the "impact of something".
Nathan Kraatskow, a young air force cadet was cycling home from a friend's house in Hobsonville. He was wearing headphones but no helmet. The pedestrian signal crossing was red as he rode across the road. The car Le Roux was driving plowed into Nathan, sending him across the bonnet and into the air before he landed on the ground.
The 20-year-old can't forgive herself for abandoning him. Last year, her sentence of 11 months' home detention, community work and no driving for two-and-a-half years sparked public outrage. A petition, started by Nathan's parents to appeal the sentence, has more than 185,000 signatures.
Le Roux accepts that saying "sorry" to Kraatskow's parents is not "good enough".
"I think about what happened all the time and what I took away from his family. I know they don't see me in the best eyes and I don't blame them. They lost their son because of me but I am not the monster I have been portrayed to be."
Le Roux has found a job cleaning houses but her ultimate dream is to work on superyachts to "travel and see the world".
"I have all the qualifications and finished my course before the sentence. I will start off as a deckhand or a stewardess. I wasted a lot of my teenage years not living the life I should have been."
Charlene Kraatskow declined to comment to the Herald on Sunday. In September, she and her husband Orion spoke at an MPs' select committee pleading for tougher home detention conditions. They wanted anyone sentenced to home detention to have limited access to social media and TV. "It's a holiday at home," she told MPs.
Le Roux disagrees.
"I have had setbacks along the way. When you experience home detention first hand you understand it's not a holiday. It's definitely a punishment. They can think what they like and I understand that. Just because I can watch TV it doesn't mean I have the freedom to do what I want."
She feels lucky she has a second chance to prove herself. She regretted her Instagram post at Halloween where she wore an orange boiler suit and her face was painted like a human skull, with the caption "Hide the Kids".
"I don't want pity. It was ill thought-out but it didn't relate to the crash. I know that was insensitive to the boy's parents [but] I was talking about trick or treating."
Her social media posts no longer reek of smug privilege but gleam positivity.
Le Roux's second offer of restorative justice with the family is something she wants but she concedes it probably won't happen.
"I understand if they don't want to meet with me but if they change their minds I am here. Nothing will bring him back and they will probably never fully heal but if I can help them in any way I would love that opportunity," she said.
Le Roux's lawyer, Belinda Sellars QC, said: "Her sentence was designed as a punishment but also to rehabilitate her and help her become a functioning member of society."
Le Roux hasn't driven a car or consumed alcohol since receiving her sentence.
"At times I have thought it would be nice to have a drink or go for a drive. And, even if I didn't get caught, it's not being honest to myself. I am lucky the sentence is not for the rest of my life," Le Roux said.
She has to wait another 19 months before she can drive again. Next month she celebrates her 21st birthday and plans to have a glass of wine.
"I am excited to be reaching this milestone. I have found my purpose - before this, I was lost. Home detention has made me think before I do anything – your actions can have catastrophic effects. I don't want anyone to go through the same thing as me to learn that lesson."
Le Roux is still subject to post-detention conditions but, with her ankle bracelet off, she hopes to see her girlfriends and is planning a camping holiday.
"When you are at your lowest point you find out who your true friends are. It's been amazing people who have heard my story are prepared to give me a chance to show I'm not a terrible person. I made a major mistake and I want Nathan's family to know I am doing the best I can."