A man who crashed his car and killed his "best mate" while high on drugs near Taupō has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
Meiha Teepa was high on both methamphetamine and cannabis when he fled from police near a fatal crash cordon on Broadlands Rd before crashing his car nearby and killing his passenger, Pehekino John Bennett-Te Huia, in January.
Teepa had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, driving while his licence was suspended or revoked and failing to stop.
Today, he was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court by Judge Tony Snell to three years and four months in prison and a four-year disqualification from driving.
Victim impact statements from Bennett-Te Huia's partner and sister were both read to the court.
His partner described him as her "always and forever" and said that their children could never call or see their father when they needed him.
She said she and his four children were "broken" from the incident.
There were tears in the public gallery as the statement was read.
Bennett-Te Huia's sister's statement read that she wished she could tell him she loved him "one more time" and the news of his death had been like "an instant pain that stabs you".
Teepa's lawyer Douglas Hall told the court that his client took "full responsibility" for his actions and showed "genuine" remorse.
He said he had gone down a "slippery slope" involving drugs after previously being a "law-abiding" citizen.
A remorse letter from Teepa was read to the court where he described Bennett-Te Huia as his "best mate" and that he was sorry to the family and emergency services who may be traumatised from that day.
"It was a stupid mistake that cost my best friend his life" and "if I could trade places with him right, I would", the letter read.
Judge Snell told the court that the sentence he would give out would be "grossly inadequate" to the life lost and he wanted to apologise to the family in advance, who were "victims" in different ways.
He said the sentence he gave was in line with the law.
Details in the summary of facts previously provided to the Rotorua Daily Post stated Teepa was disqualified on December 20, 2019, from driving for three months but on January 24, he was spotted driving at speed down Broadlands Rd in Taupō about 1.15am.
Less than two hours earlier, there had been a fatal crash on the same road and an unmarked police car was heading to the scene when Teepa illegally overtook at 140km/h on double yellow lines, the summary said.
The officer in the car noticed Teepa was heading in the direction of the cordon near Centennial Dr at speed and began following him. Teepa increased his speed again to more than 140km/h and disappeared from the officer's view.
Teepa took a right turn on to Centennial Dr towards Taupō and accelerated more. He began to approach the site of road-sealing works on Centennial Dr that was signposted at 50km/h with signs warning of roadworks.
The road was dry, but as he came around the left-hand bend, he lost control and slipped from the road. He hit a fence before coming to a stop in a paddock.
Officers arrived within 30 seconds and could see Teepa and a passenger trapped in the car.
The passenger, Bennett-Te Huia, who was not wearing a seatbelt, had sustained critical injuries including a deep neck laceration and compound fractures. He died at the scene before an ambulance arrived.
Analysis of the car and the occupants found Teepa's blood on the car door and both methamphetamine and cannabis in his bloodstream.
Teepa told police at the scene Bennett-Te Huia had been the driver and that he had been sleeping at the time.