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The father of a 28-year-old Northern Irish woman killed in a crash in Central Otago days after celebrating her birthday says he is haunted by visions of her final moments.
Speaking to the Alexandra District Court yesterday by audiovisual link from the family home in Northern Ireland, Samuel Moffett said in the months since his daughter Kirsty Samantha Moffett died he visualised the crash that killed her.
"I hear her scream as the vehicle impacts her car.
"I hear her moan as the life slips from her body."
The emotional victim impact statements read either directly or on behalf of Miss Moffett’s immediate family left many in the court in tears.
Tracy Joy Shaw (49), of Alexandra, appeared for sentence on a charge of careless driving causing the death of Miss Moffett in a crash in Scotland St, Roxburgh, on December 13.
Judge Emma Smith said the sentence that would be handed to Shaw would seem "hopelessly inadequate" to her family.
That was apparent from their statements.
Jacqui Lambeth, of Victim Support, read statements from Miss Moffet’s mother Hazel, brother Nathan and sister Natasha, while the family watched from home.
Hazel Moffett said in her statement her "heart has been absolutely torn apart" by the loss of her second daughter.
She cited her daughter’s involvement in church and in sport as testament to her love of life and she had channelled her energy into physiotherapy which she was practising in Dunedin while on her working holiday visa and at the time of her death.
Natasha Moffett recounted the the police visit that fundamentally changed her family.
"There was less compassion, less empathy and less light in the world."
Nathan Moffett had been adamant he would not provide a statement but realised he would regret it, he said.
A message from his sister on her birthday that said "I love you" had gone unanswered.
"I never got to say ‘I love you too’."
Older sister Lauren Ward read a powerful statement.
"What hurts me as her bigger sister ... I was not there to comfort her in the final moments of her life."
She had an unused bridesmaid’s dress from her wedding, which Miss Moffet was to have worn.
"No sentence this court will offer will be great enough."
Mr Moffet also read his statement directly and described his daughter’s death as the "most difficult chapter of my life".
Quoting Don McLean’s hit song American Pie, he said December 13 was the "day the music died for me" and in the six to seven months since her death he had yet to hear the word "sorry".
Judge Smith praised their statements.
"Many of your words are simply quite beautiful, I will keep them with me."
Judge Smith said the charge carried a maximum sentence of three months’ jail and a fine of $4500.
The case law was clear and the sentence she would impose would seem "hopelessly inadequate", she said.
Shaw’s culpability had to be considered as "moderate".
Judge Smith sentenced Shaw to 120 hours of community work. She was also disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay reparation of $7500.
The fine might seem "an insignificant amount", Judge Smith said, but it reflected Shaw’s personal circumstances.
Judge Smith said about 5pm on Sunday, December 13, Shaw was travelling north on Scotland St, Roxburgh, near the golf club and rugby club rooms.
Miss Moffett, who was returning to Dunedin from celebrating her birthday in Queenstown, was travelling in the opposite direction.
Earlier, Shaw had pulled over at Dumbarton because she was feeling nauseous and light-headed. That feeling returned as she entered Roxburgh.
Her vehicle crossed the centre line, colliding with the driver’s door of the car driven by Miss Moffett. Both vehicles were travelling at the posted speed limit of 80kmh.
Miss Moffett’s car came to rest on a grass verge, while Shaw’s vehicle spun 180 degrees and came to rest in the middle of the road.
A doctor who was driving on the street at the time tried to assist but Miss Moffett’s injuries were unsurvivable and she died at the scene, Judge Smith said.
Shaw had no recollection of the crash until she was pulled from her vehicle.