The mother of Matt Harris and grandmother of his baby daughter Ruby, who were killed in a car crash last September, says she does not see the man who caused the crash as a killer.
Cathy Harris stood before Wilson Prasidh Narayan, 46, in the Invercargill District Court yesterday and told the man responsible for the crash her family's grief was a life sentence.
"I don't think of you as a killer, but your actions killed. The decisions you made, the actions you took, they killed."
Six people read victim impact statements of what the crash, at Makarewa near Invercargill, had caused them to live through.
Ella Ashley, who was unable to be in court because of her injuries in the crash, had her statement read out.
She had had seven surgeries since the crash.
The 17-year-old was on her way to Invercargill for tutoring, and had left earlier than usual so she could buy her father a gift for Father's Day.
"My body no longer works or looks the way it did before," the statement read.
"I will never, ever be the same again."
Laura Harris, Matt's sister and Ruby's aunt, said she forgave Narayan.
"I believe these events will haunt you as they haunt me," she said.
Judge John Brandts-Giesen said any sentence would be inadequate.
"Everyone will leave this courtroom today unsatisfied with the result because I am bound by the law, I am bound by the decisions of higher courts," he said.
He said reading the victim impact statements was one thing, but hearing them read out by those affected was all the more affecting.
"There is nothing more poignant than hearing you say what you felt."
Narayan was sentenced to six months home detention, ordered to complete 100 hours community work and pay $4000 in emotional harm to Ella Ashley and $8000 to Brooke McDowall-Blick, who lost her baby and her partner in the crash.
Narayan had previously pleaded guilty to six charges, including two counts of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing death, two counts of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operations causing injury, one count of careless driving and a separate charge of careless driving, related to another incident on October 16, 2020.
In a police summary of facts read during a hearing in February, Narayan expressed remorse and said he could not explain why he crossed the road's centre line on the day of the fatal crash, saying he may have blacked out or fallen asleep.