15 Sep 2011

Car passenger guilty of triple manslaughter

8:32 pm on 15 September 2011

High Court jurors were applauded on Thursday as a man was found guilty of killing three young people in an horrific North Canterbury road crash.

Worthy Redeemed, who was once known as Lee Errol Silvester, faced three counts of manslaughter after grabbing the steering wheel of a car to veer it into an oncoming bus.

Kodee Rapana, 15; Jethro Cooper, 16; and the car's driver Dean McCartney, 21; died in the head-on crash.

The Crown said Redeemed made a deliberate decision to put the car on its collision course, but he said he had no recollection of the crash at Woodend in May last year.

The jury took about three hours to find Redeemed, 39, guilty on all three counts; a verdict that was met with applause from the victims' families and a thank-you yelled out by a woman in the public gallery.

Redeemed was also convicted on one count of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and two counts of wounding with intent to injure.

The born-again Christian will be sentenced at Ashburton on 25 October.

Mother at loss

Jethro Cooper's mother, Jackie Cronin, said after the verdict she was at a loss to know what was wrong with Redeemed.

She said although hearing the evidence in great detail was very tough, it was a big relief to see Redeemed convicted.

Ms Cronin says it's also been tough having the trial delayed and then moved to Wellington, because of quake disruption to the Christchurch courts.