Killer driver expected to get parole

The mother of Rotorua woman Whittney Robertson holds no ill feelings towards the repeat drink driver who killed her daughter and hopes he will use his experience to stop others drink driving.

Royland Alexander McCann, 39, was jailed in September 2009 but is likely to be released on parole this week.

"We just wish him well and hope that he has all the support he needs," said Whittney's mother, Sonia Wilson.

"For us we have a lifetime without Whittney but he has also spent a great deal of time away from his family. It's time for him to go home and spend time with his family."

McCann, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court to four years' jail after previously pleading guilty to one charge each of dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing injury, driving while forbidden, failing to stop and ascertain injury, possession of cannabis and possession of cannabis oil.

McCann smashed his 4WD head-on into the car 23-year-old Whittney was a passenger in on May 3, 2009, near Atiamuri, southwest of Rotorua.

The car Whittney was a passenger in was being driven by her partner, Shannon Tamariki.

McCann had been drinking and had been forbidden to drive because of four drink-driving convictions. After the crash, he ran into dense bush, eluding an extensive police air and land search of the area.

He was found by police the next morning walking home on Malfroy Rd.

He was breath-tested and blew an alcohol reading of 150 micrograms per litre of breath. The limit is 400mcg.

Friends of McCann had told police he was intoxicated when he had left their house before the crash.

The court was told in 2009 that McCann had four previous drinking-driving convictions, the last of which was in 2004.

McCann applied for parole in November 2010 and last November and had been declined, but in 2011 the Parole Board noted that he had become involved in the drug treatment unit.

He applied for parole again on October 18 and the hearing was adjourned until this month after it was found the address he was to be released to was no longer available and another property needed to be assessed.

New Zealand Parole Board manager Alistair Spierling told The Daily Post that McCann was due before the Parole Board this week.

Mrs Wilson had not been to any of the Parole Board hearings but said she was aware that McCann was due to appear this month.

Although McCann's sentence does not end until next July, Mrs Wilson said they had been told he was likely to be released from jail at his next appearance before the Parole Board.

"We were quite prepared for him to come out in October."

Mrs Wilson said her daughter was never far from her thoughts and her death had changed Mrs Wilson and her husband John's priorities.

She said making time for family and friends was important.

"Having the loss of a child definitely changes your priorities."

However, she said, they had moved on.

"We are realistic. He has done his time. I don't feel bitter and angry at him at all. I just really hope he gets all the help he can get."

If there was anything she could say to McCann it would be to use his experience to stop others from drinking and getting behind the wheel.

McCann was living in Rotorua before the May 2009 crash and Mrs Wilson said she had no problems if he wanted to return.

She was also prepared to meet McCann.

"I'm not opposed to talking to him at some stage if that is something he wanted."

- By Abigail Hartevelt of The Daily Post

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