The fiance of a motorcyclist killed by a woman driving the wrong way on a Wellington motorway has described the pain of watching their young daughter "bond with a box of ashes".
Kathleen Valda Grey, 72, was sentenced in the Wellington District Court this morning, having earlier pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of 25-year-old Samuel Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire - know by friends as Evak.
Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire, who has Black Power connections, died in the early hours of December 29 when Grey crashed into him on State Highway 1 near Johnsonville.
A member of the public reported Grey driving the wrong way just before 3am and police were dispatched - but due to miscommunication the patrol car was sent in the wrong direction.
In the few minutes it took to establish the correct direction, ambulance communication received a report of the fatal crash, a police spokesperson said.
"From the time of the initial call to police, to ambulance receiving their call, was four minutes 28 seconds."
Grey had driven down from the top of the North Island to Wellington that day with plans to catch the ferry to the South Island. The trip takes about 11 hours, Judge Bruce Davidson said.
While waiting for the ferry, Grey decided to drive again, and ended up travelling 13.5km on the wrong side of the motorway, despite other cars trying to signal to her.
She told police after the crash she didn't realise she was on the wrong side of the road.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's former fiance, Whetu Nuku, said their 2-year-old daughter is always carrying around her father's ashes.
"My baby sleeps with him every night, eats with him every morning, and even tried to bathe with his ashes."
Nuku said she regular has nightmares of her partner being knocked off his bike.
The couple were due to get married this year.
A loved one was holding the box of ashes during the court hearing.
Nuku's mother spoke in court, explaining how she had taken over the care of the toddler and describing her devastation at the pain the girl had to go through.
"I can never forgive you for this," she said.
"I don't even want to look at you because I don't want to remember your face."
Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's mother, Lisa Lemaire, said the pain the family had experienced was worsened by Grey's "flippant" behaviour since the crash.
Grey had showed no remorse and did not attend a Restorative Justice conference, she said.
"We offered you an olive branch and you coldly ignored us."
But Lemaire addressed Grey, saying she was forgiven.
"My son was a very forgiving person. He forgives you, I know that, and I just want to say peace be with you."
Lemaire told the Herald she found it "unbelievable" police did not have legislative power to take a blood test from Grey after the crash.
The police spokesperson said Grey passed a breath screening test and exhibited no signs of being under the influence of drugs, so there were no grounds under which to take a blood test.
Judge Davidson said mitigating factors included Grey's lack of prior convictions and good driving history.
"The inescapable conclusion is that this is explained by driver fatigue and unfamiliarity with the area," he said.
He sentenced her to six months community detention, saying a sentence of imprisonment would make a "terrible situation even worse".
Her curfew time is 7pm-7am. The judge also ordered a reparation payment of $3000, which will be paid to Jackson-Seligman-Lemaire's daughter's bank account.
Grey is also disqualified from driving for 18 months.