By Robin Martin of RNZ
A Taranaki man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for causing the death of teenager Olivia Keightley-Trigg in a head-on crash last year.
Kevin Ronald Bishell, 38, was sentenced at New Plymouth District Court this morning for dangerous driving causing death and refusing to give a blood sample.
The court heard today that Bishell had six previous convictions for careless driving, one just three months before the fatal crash.
On August 28 last year, the ute Bishell was driving crossed the centre line on passing lanes on State Highway 3 just south of Waitara and collided with the vehicle Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg was driving.
The 18-year-old died at the scene.
Her mother, Suzie Keightley, was travelling in a vehicle ahead and watched her daughter's car disappear off the road.
Following the sentencing today, Keightley said she was ready to forgive Bishell.
"I think I have forgiven Kevin. I honestly do. To me when I got what I needed out of restorative justice I kinda [forgave him].
"For the first time this morning I prayed on his behalf because I felt that's what I needed to do. I need to move on and I want what's best for him and that's just change."
Keightley said now the 15-month court process was over, the family would have the opportunity to grieve.
She said she was happy with the sentence.
"I think he definitely got more than I thought he'd get. I thought he'd get under two years and at home. I just hope he makes the best of the advantages he has while he's away to better himself and that would be a benefit to everyone really."
Shaun Keightley, Olivia's father, said while he was content with the sentence no amount of jail time could return his daughter to him.
"Nothing is going to replace Olivia. No sentence was going to replace Olivia. The hole we have is just covered in a thin plane of glass that breaks very often. The sentence is what it is. We can't change ... we've just got to live with that."
Keightley said he hoped the sentence would deter other people from dangerous driving.
"Hopefully it can send out a message that we can look after the community and the community is safe not only from him but others who do the same thing."
In sentencing, Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said Bishell had six previous convictions for careless driving including one just three months before the fatal crash where he had veered off the road and smashed into a power pole.
Judge O'Driscoll said this compounded his culpability for the crash which killed Keightley-Trigg, as did the fact he was on parole at the time of the smash.
He gave Bishell credit for taking part in the restorative justice programme, his guilty plea and committing to drug and alcohol counselling.
In addition to the two-and-a-half year jail term, Judge O'Driscoll also disqualified Bishell from driving for four years and ordered him to pay $1000 in reparations.