A Hamilton man who deleted footage of an illegal street race after a crash killed four people has been sentenced to eight months' home detention.
Stephen John Jones was today sentenced for his part in the horrific crash on Ohaupo Rd on June 24, 2016.
Hamilton woman Hannah Leis Strickett-Craze, 24, Paul De Silva, 20, and Lance Robinson, 28, both of Te Awamutu, and Jason McCormick Ross, 19, of Stratford died in the crash. A van driver who was seriously injured has name suppression.
However, the sentencing appeared to be too much to bear for most of the victims' families. Just Strickett-Craze's aunt, Tania Bowkett, and mother were in the public gallery to hear Jones' fate.
Bowkett said was unable to go to driver Dylan Cossey's sentencing last month in which he was handed down 12 months' home detention.
"We had no expectations to be honest, after the last sentencing," Bowkett said. "Is it fair? I don't think the justice system is particularly well deemed in fairness to be honest. Is it fair that a little boy still has no mum? Is it fair [Cossey] gets to live his life? Let's hope he makes a good deal of it."
Bowkett said Jones had at least conducted himself in a more mature manner as opposed to Cossey who upset families by smirking throughout the court process.
Jones, who was Cossey's passenger at the time of the crash, was found not guilty of manslaughter by illegal street racing after a trial in the High Court at Hamilton in February, however he was found guilty of failing to stop and ascertain injury and attempting to pervert the course of justice after editing and shortening a film he took of the crash.
Cossey raced Robinson's vehicle for about nine minutes as they travelled north of Te Awamutu along State Highway 3, south of Hamilton Airport.
Robinson's vehicle lost control as it passed Cossey's Honda. It fishtailed several times before slamming into an oncoming van.
All four occupants died at the scene. Cossey and Jones fled the crash.
As the crash happened, Jones is heard yelling "gap it bro, gap it" to Cossey who then sped from the scene.
An investigation of Jones' phone found a video he had supplied to police had been edited at least twice, the most recent being two hours before he was interviewed by police.
Justice Anne Hinton reminded Jones of the anger the victims' families felt at he and Cossey for fleeing the scene without offering assistance.
A pre-sentence report found he was at a low risk of reoffending.
She said the report's recommendation for such a light sentence of supervision and community work reflected his character and how involved he was in the process.
Jones' employer described him as "kind, thoughtful and respectful", and his mother recalled the times her son had broken down in tears because of the emotional toll the crash had on him.
Crown prosecutor Duncan McWilliam pushed for a jail term but accepted that home detention should be the minimum sanction imposed.
He said the perverting charge was serious as editing the film lost crucial evidence "forever".
Jones' lawyer Russell Boot said his client was genuinely remorseful.
He said his client's editing of the film was a "misguided attempt" to help Cossey.
Justice Hinton accepted Jones was committed to turning his life around and took into account his lack of previous convictions and young age at the time of the crash, 19.
However, she dismissed Boot's submission that the editing was simply a misguided attempt. She said he knew what the content was and that police were investigating and would want to know what it showed.
She regarded the deleting of footage as "quite serious" and took a starting point of 18 months' prison and considered the pair fleeing the scene as "callous".
She said given the seriousness of the crash, Jones played a material if not equal part in fleeing the scene as Cossey.
"I accept for you it was a horrific, one-off, event followed by a very grave error of judgment," the judge told Jones.
As well as handing down a home detention sentence, Justice Hinton also disqualified him from driving for one year.
Cossey, 21, last month avoided a jail term and was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and disqualified from driving for seven years.
He was also ordered to do 400 hours' community work.
The Crown has since filed an application to appeal the sentence, and it is being reviewed by the Crown Solicitor's office.