No jail for driver who caused Irish woman's death

The sentence handed to a 49-year-old woman will seem "hopelessly inadequate’’ to the family of a Northern Irish woman killed in a crash in Central Otago. 

That was according to Judge Emma Smith when Tracy Joy Shaw, of Alexandra, appeared for sentence at the Alexandra District Court today on a charge of careless driving causing the death of Kirsty Samantha Moffett (28).

The crash happened in Scotland St, Roxburgh, on December 13 last year.

Earlier in the sentencing, Miss Moffett’s family left most of those in court in tears as they recounted the impact of her death on their lives.

Judge Smith praised them for their statements.

"Many of your words are simply quite beautiful, I will keep them with me.''

She then cautioned them for what was to come.

"I am poised to impose a sentence you will likely find quite unjust.''

Judge Smith said the charge carried a maximum sentence of three months’ jail and a fine of $4500, but "cases like this represent among the most difficult to come before a court’’.

The case law was clear and the sentence she would impose would seem "hopelessly inadequate’’ to Miss Moffett’s family, she said.

Shaw’s culpability had to be considered as "moderate’’.

"The court is led to a community-based sentence,'' Judge Smith said before sentencing 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 was reflective of Shaw’s personal circumstances.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of three months’ jail, a fine and disqualification.

Judge Smith said about 5pm on Sunday December 13, Shaw was travelling north on Scotland St  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 in the day, Shaw had travelled form Alexandra to Laurence to pick up her son but 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 into the southbound lane, colliding with the driver's door of the car driven by Miss Moffett.

Both vehicles were travelling at the posted speed limit of 80kmh.

The impact forced both vehicles to lift off the road, before 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 of the crash tried to assist but Miss Moffett’s injuries were unsurvivable and she died at the scene, Judge Smith said.

Shaw has no recollection of the crash until she was pulled from her vehicle.

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