4 Apr 2016

Home detention for Hawera highway manslaughter

7:50 pm on 4 April 2016

A Hawera grandmother has been described as the glue that held her family together, at the sentencing of three men convicted of her manslaughter.

Daniel Gavin, Samuel Hawkins and Jayson Campbell (left to right) have been sentenced to home detention for the death of Hawera woman Christine Fairweather.

Daniel Gavin, Samuel Hawkins and Jayson Campbell (left to right) were sentenced today in the High Court in New Plymouth. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Christine Anne Fairweather was hit and killed by a car as she attempted to move metal barriers that had been deliberately placed on State Highway 3 between Normanby and Hawera in August 2014.

Samuel Lance Hawkins, 19, Daniel George Gavin, 21, and Jayson John Campbell, 18, were sentenced to home detention when they appeared in the High Court in New Plymouth today.

In his victim impact statement, Christine Fairweather's husband of 28 years, John, told the court her death had destroyed his life.

"I've had trouble coping. I've lost my job and my driver's licence. I turned to the bottle because I couldn't handle it. I'm on medication to keep me calm.

Christine Fairweather.

Christine Fairweather Photo: SUPPLIED

"I wake up every morning thinking this has to be a nightmare but it's happened. It's a bloody nightmare but I live it everyday."

Her death had left her mother, Verle Darbyshire, and her five siblings distraught, he said.

"She was the glue that held the family together."

Mrs Fairweather, 57, had been returning to Hawera from babysitting her grandchildren in Kaponga on the night she died.

About 11.45pm, she struck barriers placed across the road an hour earlier by the offenders.

She stopped her car, put on her hazard lights and left the headlights on full beam. In heavy rain and strong winds, Mrs Fairweather and another driver began to move the barriers off the road, but she was hit by a ute which was travelling north towards Stratford.

The driver of the ute, Geoff Douglas Hart, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death and was sentenced to 100 hours of community work in January 2015.

Justice Muir said today he considered Hart's role minor compared to the three young men being sentenced.

Following months of police investigation and repeated denials from the trio, they were eventually charged in mid-2015.

In her victim impact statement, Dianne Coleman, Mrs Fairweather's youngest sister, said her career had involved working with youth and she understood how pranks could happen, but not this one.

"The poor driving conditions, the darkness, the weather, the non-reflective barriers and the high risk of a resulting accident because of your utter stupidity."

Mrs Coleman took a shot at Campbell for not taking part in the restorative justice programme.

"It astounds me that you did not possess the nerve to man up for what you have done. Jayson, maybe one day when you have real nerve maybe you could talk to me about the events leading to my sister's death."

Justice Muir took into account the offenders' guilty plea, relative youth and the opportunity for rehabilitation, but did not ignore the fact that both Hawkins and Campbell had offended since Mrs Fairweather's death.

He sentenced Gavin to seven months' home detention, Hawkins to nine and Campbell to 12 months' home detention. The trio will each serve 100 hours community work.

Justice Muir told the offenders that Mrs Fairweather was a kind and compassionate person who according to her family would have only wanted the best for them.

"Recrimination was simply not in her vocabulary. She was a generously spirited woman. You have heard she was the glue in her family and likewise part of the glue that makes society work.

"Honour her memory. Honour the memory of this fine woman by straightening your lives out and making the best of them."