A Taranaki couple have told the man responsible for a crash that killed their young daughter how he'd robbed them "of every minute" they were meant to spend with her.

At about 6am on August 28 last year, 18-year-old Olivia Keightley-Trigg was heading home to Waitara after dropping friends off at New Plymouth airport.

Coming the other way was Kevin Ronald Bishell, whose ute slammed into Keightley's car after he attempted a passing manoeuvre and crossed the double yellow centre lines.

Olivia died at the scene.

Advertisement

Today in New Plymouth District Court, Bishell appeared for sentencing after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and refusing a request for a blood sample.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll adjourned giving his sentence until tomorrow, but allowed Olivia's family to read victim impact statements to Bishell, who sat in the dock, expressionless and head bowed.

Her parents, Shaun and Suzie Keightley, spoke of their grief over their daughter's loss, and their anger at Bishell's actions.

Suzie Keightley was driving in a vehicle in front of Olivia that morning, and recounted seeing her car get slammed off the road behind her, and then searching for her as a horn blared in the early morning darkness.

When she found her daughter, still in her car, "I instinctively knew she was gone".

She described her anguish at phoning her husband from the scene, and telling her other children their sister was dead.

"Every night I've dreamt of that moment, living it over and over ... it's a memory no one wants, let alone to have to live it over and over."

She described Olivia as "vibrant, fun and full of life" with "mischief [that] danced behind her eyes".

Advertisement

"She was 18 years old, with a life to live ... she was beautiful, she had a smile that was infectious and a laugh that was contagious," she said.

Kevin Ronald Bishell has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and refusing a request for a blood sample after a fatal crash that killed a Taranaki teenager last year. Photo / RNZ
Kevin Ronald Bishell has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and refusing a request for a blood sample after a fatal crash that killed a Taranaki teenager last year. Photo / RNZ

"We have lost a daughter, along with the hopes of dreams of what was to come."

Shaun Keightley told Bishell of what being a father to Olivia meant to him.

"We did a great job raising Olivia. Ask anyone, she exuded love, life and all things good," he said.

"But you robbed us of that. You robbed us of every minute we were meant to have with our daughter.

"Every smile, text, cuddle, laugh ... everything we should have had as a family, you took it all. My child, the young woman you killed, was a ray of sunshine. She made me smile and my heart warm.

"She hassled me lovingly about getting old, saying 'careful old man'.

"And now she is gone, as a result of a careless action that took no more than a few seconds."

"I no longer receive texts to get some sneaky Macca's on the way home from work, or to pick something up for dinner, or just to check that I was okay. How hard and long that drive home is now.

"I don't get those funny, loving texts from my girl because of one moment when your actions on [August 28, 2018] took Olivia's life."

The parents also spoke of the financial toll their daughter's death had had on their one-income family.

Money that was supposed to have been spent on a missionary trip overseas instead had to be spent on the fall-out from the crash.

Olivia's sister, Brianna Tipene, also told Bishell: "After today, I won't hate you, I won't even think of you ... but I hope you think of us and what you have taken from us."

Outside court, Olivia's parents told media the past 14 months had been traumatic.

After attending a restorative justice programme with Bishell, and noting that he'd watched a video of Olivia's funeral service and put his vehicle up for sale to help pay for her headstone, they felt he was now sorry for what he'd done.

"To know that he honestly feels remorse has meant more than what he's going to get for a sentence," Suzie Keightley said.