Sheryl Newitt isn't interested in meeting the man who caused the death of her daughter - she just wants people to be more careful when driving so no one has to suffer the heartbreak she's now living.

Benjamin William Richardson, 26, from Rotorua, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court today to careless driving causing the death of former Tauranga woman Aleshia McGrath south of Rotorua on October 19 last year.

McGrath, 40, who had recently moved to Galatea, had been driving her Mazda Familia on State Highway 5 shortly before 6pm when Richardson's Nissan Wingroad, which was travelling north towards Rotorua, collided with her car.

A police summary of facts, released to the Rotorua Daily Post said the cars were approaching an easy corner about 1.4km south of the intersection with SH30 when Richardson crossed into the path of McGrath's vehicle.


Richardson did not brake or try to avoid the crash. McGrath died of her injuries at the scene.

Richardson told police he had no recollection of what happened immediately before the crash or what caused him to cross onto the wrong side of the road, the summary said.

Richardson was to have pleaded to the charge in April but the case was put off until today to allow him time to explore whether he suffered from a sleep disorder.

His lawyer, Brian Foote, told Judge Tony Snell in court today that Richardson had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but he didn't want to rely on that as a defence in his case and wanted to plead guilty.

However, the delay annoyed McGrath's family, many of whom were in court today.

Outside the court, Newitt said in her opinion: "That's not malice, that's taking it like a man. He still could not look at us. There's been no empathy".

Related articles:

26 Jun, 2018 12:00pm
2 minutes to read
26 Jun, 2018 2:43pm
3 minutes to read

Newitt said her only hope was that her daughter's death would be a reminder to drivers to be careful on the road.

"I would like people to know that Aleshia was not just a name."

McGrath's partner of two years, Michael Liddington, her grandparents and her aunt were also in court today.

Liddington told the Rotorua Daily Post outside the court he and his 12-year-old daughter Kaylia missed everything about McGrath.

He said sadly her death came only two weeks after she had moved from Tauranga to his property at Galatea and transferred her job to the Rotorua office of Work and Income.

He said he had been looking forward to building a life with McGrath, including having children of their own.

After today's court hearing Liddington and members of her family set up a stone memorial for McGrath at the site where she died.

Aleshia McGrath's memorial on State Highway 5 south of Rotorua was set up today. Photo/Stephen Parker
Aleshia McGrath's memorial on State Highway 5 south of Rotorua was set up today. Photo/Stephen Parker

Newitt said her daughter was adored and respected by her work colleagues and 300 people attended her funeral, including the "boss" of Work and Income in Wellington.

She said her daughter took her job seriously and although it wasn't always part of her role, she helped those looking for work put their CVs together.

She recalls McGrath telling her former clients would get back in touch with her 12 months later saying she had "changed their life".

She said when doing a similar role in Australia, she won two national awards for work in helping people to find jobs.

"She was just so passionate and had a brightness about her."

Judge Snell has ordered pre-sentence reports and remanded Richardson at large to reappear for sentencing on September 11.