'Do better' in life: No jail for causing teen’s death

Tully Robinson. Photo: NZ Herald
Tully Robinson. Photo: NZ Herald
The mother of Arrowtown teenager Allanah Walker has told the woman responsible for her daughter’s death to "do better" in her life.

Reading her victim impact statement at the sentencing of Tully Isabel Robinson (22) in the Queenstown District Court yesterday, Sarah Walker held a framed photo of her daughter as she described the impact of her "beautiful and precious" daughter’s death on her family.

Allanah was killed instantly in a head-on collision near Arrowtown on August 22 last year, and her boyfriend, Astin Caldwell, was seriously injured.

Mrs Walker told Robinson the crash was not caused by a momentary lapse of attention, but was the result of "three conscious decisions" she had made on the night.

"Every day for the rest of your life, when you look in the mirror, you’ll see someone who made a series of bad decisions that resulted in the taking of a life."

Allanah Walker. Photo: Supplied
Allanah Walker. Photo: Supplied
Robinson (22), the elder sister of alpine ski racer and Olympian Alice Robinson, was convicted in June after admitting charges of aggravated careless driving causing Allanah’s death and aggravated careless driving causing injury to Mr Caldwell, in Malaghans Rd.

She was found to be speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road and texting while driving.

A blood alcohol test showed she was slightly above the legal limit of 50mg.

Her application for a discharge without conviction was refused by Judge John Brandts-Giesen, but he also rejected Crown prosecutor Mike Brownlie’s argument that a term in prison was appropriate.

From a starting point of 17 months’ prison, he gave Robinson discounts for her early guilty plea, previous good character, relative youth, remorse and willingness to engage in restorative justice and pay reparation.

He sentenced her to home detention for four and a-half months, and banned her from driving for 18 months.

She must pay $20,000 to Mr Caldwell and $15,000 to Mrs Walker as reparation for emotional harm.

Judge Brandts-Giesen told Robinson he was confident she would overcome the mental health challenges arising from the crash and its aftermath, and succeed in her life.

"You really have one duty, and that is to make the best of your life, to look straight in the eye of what you have done wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Earlier, counsel Kerry Cook argued a conviction would impact the defendant’s hoped-for corporate career and "bright prospects".

It would also affect her ability to travel, and be detrimental to her mental health.

Judge Brandts-Giesen said no penalty he imposed could undo what had happened, and no-one would leave the court happy about the outcome.

"All we can hope for is a form of closure."

guy.williams@odt.co.nz

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