A driver whose efforts to flee police ended in a crash in which his brother was killed on a back road near Wairoa in 2017 has been sentenced to nine months home detention.
Dean Samuel Crisp, 25, was also disqualified from driving for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death, two counts of dangerous driving causing injury and a fine-only offence of failing to stop.
The charges arose from the incident in which his younger brother Ryan died and two other relatives were injured.
The guilty pleas came after Judge Warren Cathcart earlier indicated the sentence would be home detention, not imprisonment.
At a hearing in Gisborne District Court to formally impose the sentence, Crisp sought unsuccessfully to have the term of the detention reduced for religious reasons, with community work imposed in lieu.
Counsel Doug Rishworth said Crisp, an Exclusive Brethren, shared his church's view that the electronically-monitored sentence would prevent him from attending church meetings and activities.
It was the church's position and belief that members could only faithfully follow and observe the will of God unfettered by outside influences and controls.
Judge Cathcart said he could not accede to the request.
While he agreed the nominal sentence starting point of 18 months imprisonment should be converted to home detention, no lesser sentence could mark the offending.
He agreed — as did Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker — there was no need to personally deter Crisp, who was already essentially serving a life sentence due to the death of his brother, but there was a need for condemnation of Crisp's actions and a need for general deterrence.
Freedom to practise a religion was a New Zealand Bill of Rights issue but freedom from social control must be appropriately balanced with state regulation, the judge said.
To accede to Crisp's request "would make the religious belief superior to the court's order and that cannot be the case today", Judge Cathcart said.
Crisp was driving his two brothers and cousin back to Gisborne from Hawke's Bay in a van when he crashed it while travelling at speed on Awamate Rd, near Frasertown, about 7.35pm on September 10, 2017.
The crash occurred 17km after he failed to stop for a roadside traffic patrol, which clocked him speeding at 158km/h in a 100km/h zone on State Highway 2 at Waihua Hill, south of Wairoa.
Crisp accelerated past, continuing at speed and dangerously overtaking numerous other vehicles, sometimes on blind corners when his van looked as if it might roll.
Police abandoned the pursuit when they lost sight of the vehicle.
Crisp was estimated to be speeding at 149km/h when he lost control and crashed into a power pole about 10 minutes after he was first pursued.
Crisp's brother Ryan Glen Crisp, 22, who was a passenger in the back, died at the scene.
A cousin suffered critical injuries and spent a month in hospital recovering.
Crisp and his older brother suffered minor injuries.
In submissions, Rishworth contended the disqualification to be imposed could be near the mandatory minimum 12 months or slightly higher.
He pointed to Crisp's self-imposed driving ban for eight months immediately after the crash, his participation in a defensive driving course, and assessment as posing a low risk of reoffending.
But Judge Cathcart agreed with Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker. What occurred was a tragedy for Crisp and his family but Crisp could have killed any number of people travelling the same roads that night. Even with all those favourable factors, the disqualification had to be more significant, Judge Cathcart said.
In other submissions, Rishworth told the court Crisp made a voluntary payment of $10,000 reparation to his family and had undertaken voluntary work, including several presentations to young people about his experience and the dangers of speeding.
Rishworth disagreed with Walker's contention the speeding was ongoing for the full 17km after police first detected Crisp.
In order to have turned into Awamate Rd, Crisp would had to have almost completely stopped at a T-type intersection, Rishworth said.
He invited the court to treat the earlier phase as relevant but not directly contributing to the crash.
Calculating the end sentence, Judge Cathcart applied discounts of nine months for mitigating factors — Crisp's lack of previous convictions, his extensive list of character references, that aged 23 at the time he was still relatively young, and his demonstrated genuine insight and remorse.
For the voluntary payment, Crisp received a three-month discount. That needed to be modest. Not all offenders in Crisp's situation could have afforded such a substantial amount, the judge said.
Crisp also received a full 25 per cent reduction for his guilty pleas.
The judge noted Crisp had consumed alcohol at some point ahead of the incident. A blood test showed 31 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of his blood (the legal limit before a criminal offence applies is 80mg). It was not enough to have caused the crash, which was entirely due to Crisp speeding while arrogantly trying to defy police authority that night, the judge said.
The judge said he believed Crisp was still trying to evade police when he took the backroad route, including Awamate Rd, and that he did so to avoid Wairoa township, where he might have been detected.
Walker, in his submissions, noted Crisp's family's love and forgiveness towards him as a testament to their faith. The Crown acknowledged the mercy Crisp's family sought had to be a sentencing factor.
- Gisborne Herald