14 Mar 2013

Guilty plea over death of cousins

7:45 pm on 14 March 2013

One of the three people accused of killing two teenage girls in a road crash near Tauranga on Christmas Day 2011 has admitted the charge, seven days into the trial.

Phillippa Morehu, Haki Davey and Hetataka Reihana were charged over the deaths of Brooklyn and Merepeka Morehu-Clark.

Their trial began in the High Court in Hamilton last week.

On Thursday morning Reihana pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter.

He was driving the car the two victims were in when it crashed into an oncoming vehicle.

Reihana's lawyer told the court that although his client was admitting his guilt at a late stage, he accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed profound regret to the family of the two girls, who were his cousins.

He will be sentenced in May.

Because of a previous serious offence, Justice Gilbert told Reihana he is now subject to a three strike warning.

The trial for Davey and Morehu has continued with the Crown giving its closing arguments to the jury.

Prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones says the two encouraged Reihana to make the fatal passing manouevre by participating in a race.

Mr Hollister-Jones told the court it was alcohol fuelled stupidity.

Paul Mabey QC, who represents Davey, denies his client was racing at the time of the crash.

In his closing address to the jury, Mr Mabey said that to find Davey guilty they must be satisfied he actively encouraged Reihana to drive dangerously.