23 Feb 2011

Drunken killer of roadside picnicker gets four years

4:37 am on 23 February 2011

A man who admitted running over and killing a woman who was picnicking by the side of the road near Otaki has been jailed for four and a half years.

Kyle James, 37, was sentenced in the High Court at Palmerston North on one charge of manslaughter and a charge of driving with excessive breath alcohol causing injury, to which he had earlier pleaded guilty.

His victim, 69-year-old Shelagh Cotter, was having a morning cup of tea with a friend beside the rural road when James ploughed into them in October last year.

She died later in hospital; her friend received serious injuries.

Shelagh Cotter's husband David Cotter told the court of the grief caused by his wife's death and called James an arrogant, murdering drunk.

James's breath alcohol reading at the time was more than two and a half times the legal limit. The court heard that he likely consumed up to 30 drinks in the hours before the crash.

Justice Mackenzie said the crash had been caused by the wanton, irresponsible conduct of James, whom he also disqualified from driving for three years - the disqualification period to begin when he is released from jail.

James's lawyer, Simon Hewson said his client had entered an early guilty plea, showed genuine remorse and had attended an alcohol rehabilitation centre.