Home detention for ‘horror’ crash that killed friends

Joseph  'Amanaki Lelei Fisiitoi Siale. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Joseph 'Amanaki Lelei Fisiitoi Siale. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A "horror" crash in which two Oamaru teenagers were killed last year left two families devastated, a packed Oamaru District Court heard yesterday.

Joseph 'Amanaki Lelei Fisiitoi Siale (19), now living in Auckland, was sentenced to nine months’ home detention and 300 hours’ community work for careless driving causing the death of his friends, Kaylem Webb-Hirst (16) and Michael Mauheni (17), while under the influence of alcohol.

He was also disqualified from driving for 15 months.

There were two outbursts from the public gallery during sentencing.

On the night of June 12 last year, Siale and some friends, including Kaylem and Michael, were socialising in Oamaru.

The defendant and Kaylem were both drinking alcohol. Michael had not been drinking, Judge Dominic Dravitzki said.

About 11pm, the three were in a car, driven by Siale, an unlicensed driver, in Shortland Rd, just north of Oamaru.

Siale failed to stop at the end of the road at the intersection with TY Duncan Rd, and drove into large boulders, with "catastrophic" consequences.

Kaylem and Michael suffered severe head and brain injuries and died shortly after the crash, while Siale, who was severely injured, managed to free himself from the car.

The car burst into flames. Occupants of a neighbouring house attempted to put the fire out, but were unsuccessful.

A blood sample taken from Siale in hospital five hours after the crash returned a reading of 59 milligrams per 100ml of blood.

He initially told police there had been four people in the car and he was a passenger, but later confirmed he had been driving. He refused to talk to police.

Judge Dravitzki said he had received victim impact statements from Kaylem’s parents and younger sister and the results for the family were "devastating".

His father said what occurred had "wrecked" their family, while his sister was deeply affected by his death.

The Mauheni family chose not to write victim impact statements.

Siale, who appeared subdued in the dock with his head down, had attended restorative justice sessions with each of the families, during which they spoke of the anger and hurt they had experienced.

"They particularly perceived you saying you couldn’t remember the incident as not taking responsibility," Judge Dravitzki said.

The horror of the incident was such that fire personnel who attended the scene "suffered significant trauma" as a result.

Mitigating factors included the defendant’s young age, his good character, remorse and an early guilty plea.

Siale’s family had paid a "koha" to each of the victims’ families.

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