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Four years' jail for teen's driving death

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017

A Te Kuiti man has been sentenced to four years in jail following the hit and run death of a 17 year old girl in Otorohanga last year.

Broc Kawhena, 21, was drunk and speeding when the unwarranted, unregistered Honda Accord he was driving slammed into Ocean Heke in the early hours of Sunday, April 3, 2016.

The girl, who had been walking home to her father's house from a party in Kings Country, was killed instantly.

The night that Ms Heke died, Kawhena had been at another nearby party, where he had consumed 18 to 20 bottles of beer.

Justice Christine Gordon convicted Kawhena on one charge of causing death while in charge of a motor vehicle, highlighting his attitude was troubling as she passed sentence on him.

"The probation officer records that you have no memory of hitting Ms Heke and are not satisfied you caused her death.

"You advised her that you entered a guilty plea not out of remorse but that the court process was taking a long time - these comments are both disappointing and concerning.

"Your offending resulted in serious injuries to Ms Heke that caused her death. Finally the fact that you did not stop is a significant aggravating feature," Justice Gordon said.

Kawhena had initially been facing a charge of manslaughter - which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment - however this was withdrawn by the Crown.

Earlier, Ms Heke's mother Bella Tupou spoke of her family's grief in an emotional victim impact statement read out in Hamilton High Court."I miss my baby so much. I see her dad and siblings missing her, crying for her and it breaks my heart because I can't fix it.

"Knowing that she died there alone is the most unimaginable feeling. There were two people in the car that hit Ocean and not one tried to help her by calling an ambulance," Ms Tupou said.

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