One of the country's worst drink-driving killers wants to
live with his girlfriend when he is released from prison in
Gavin Hawthorn, 50, appeared before the Parole Board at
Rimutaka Prison yesterday for a hearing to set release
conditions following his 10-year sentence for manslaughter.
But the board adjourned the hearing until next month because
of concerns over his relationship and the suitability of his
Hawthorn's driving claimed four lives in two separate
crashes, and he has convictions for a string of
driving-related offences dating back to 1979, including 11
for drink driving.
In 2004, he was sentenced to 10 years' prison with a minimum
non-parole period of six years for the manslaughter of Lance
Fryer, 34, who was killed in a high-speed crash in Wairarapa
in June 2003.
The Parole Board was told yesterday that Hawthorn wants to
live with his partner, who was present for the hearing, when
he is released from prison at the end of his sentence on June
Panel convenor Alan Ritchie noted probation services had
raised concerns about the "low signal" for GPS monitoring at
He said there was also "some concern" about Hawthorn's
Mr Ritchie said the concerns made it difficult to set final
conditions for release, and he adjourned the hearing until
Hawthorn's scarred face showed little emotion, aside from a
stray smile upon mention of his release, as he appeared
before the three-member panel.
Dressed in a grey t-shirt and pants, with his long hair tied
behind his head, he sat with his arms folded.
He replied to the board with 'yes' or 'no' answers, apart
from when he was told his hearing would be adjourned.
"Righto, all good," he said.
Hawthorn has been denied parole on three occasions, the last
in 2011, when the board postponed his eligibility for release
until this month - three months out from the date on which he
must be released from prison, by law.
His convictions include 11 for drink driving, 10 for driving
while disqualified, three for dangerous driving and one for
At the time of Mr Fryer's death, Hawthorn did not have a
driving licence and was in breach of bail conditions which
banned him from drinking.
He had been drinking on June 3, 2003 before he persuaded Mr
Fryer to go with him from Carterton to Wellington so they
could visit nightclubs.
On their drive back early the next morning, a police radar
clocked Hawthorn at 167km/h on a straight on the Wairarapa
side of the Rimutaka Hill road.
Police pursued him to Greytown, where he was driving so fast
he was unable to stop when a car pulled out in front.
Hawthorn lost control of his car, which slammed into a power
pole, killing Mr Fryer.
The crash was less than 1km from the scene of his first fatal
crash in 1989.
The then-26-year-old crashed into an oncoming vehicle,
killing his passengers Peter Gay and John Kaukau, and
injuring the occupants of the other car.
One of the injured occupants, Bob Stevens, later died of a
blood clot after surgery for his injuries.
At his sentencing for manslaughter in 2004, Hawthorn's lawyer
read from a letter in which the convicted drink-driver
expressed his remorse.
"It doesn't seem fair to me that I should live with another
fatal accident on my already tormented soul. I should never
be allowed to drive again."
But Justice Alan MacKenzie did not buy it, saying the letter
was designed to draw sympathy and was "too little too late".
He said it was beyond comprehension that Hawthorn would
choose to drive as he did, in light of the previous fatal
"This was an appalling piece of driving. In your hands the
car was a lethal weapon. It was as dangerous as a loaded
In 2010, the Parole Board said it was not satisfied Hawthorn
posed no undue risk to the safety of the community, and there
was "good reason to suppose he will continue to offend in
Yesterday's appearance was Hawthorn's first since then,
having declined to appear in 2011.