Leah Wai Peneha
NZ Herald story here
We are advised Peneha spent 61 days in prison on remand. She would have been considered for release on parole in August 2010, but all prisoners are entitled to have time spent in custody prior to sentencing count as time served towards their sentences. This makes her eligibility date fall in June 2010. Her sentence expires in April 2013.
Dominion Post story 2nd August 2006
Malcolm Barnett wiped away tears as he described his "overwhelming hatred" for the drug-addled disqualified driver who killed his stepdaughter, Krystal Bennett. "Krystal didn't die in a car accident. She was killed by someone who should never have been behind the wheel of a car. "She was taken from us in the most tragic and horrific way ... It's utterly unthinkable and impossible to cope with."
The killer was Leah Wai Peneha, a disqualified driver who had consumed methamphetamine that day and later drove 300 metres on the wrong side of State Highway 2, between Silverstream and Stokes Valley, during peak-hour traffic. Her driving on September 5 last year resulted in the death of Miss Bennett, an 18-year-old who had recently moved to Stokes Valley from Taupo. Miss Bennett was returning home from work in her Toyota Celica. Peneha also killed one of her passengers – Khan Lockwood Edwards, the 12-year-old son of her gang member partner.
Khan was a back-seat passenger in Peneha's Subaru stationwagon and was not wearing a seatbelt. Peneha – who claims she cannot remember the crash – and two 16-year-olds in her car suffered serious injuries. Peneha, 20, of Napier, was jailed for six and-a-half years when she appeared for sentencing on two charges of manslaughter and two of dangerous driving causing injury in the High Court at Wellington yesterday. She must serve at least four years of the sentence and when she is freed from jail will be banned from driving for eight years.
After listening to Mr Barnett reading his victim impact statement to the court, Justice Warwick Gendall said no sentence would ever compensate the victims' families for the "senseless killing". "Some people would feel justice would have been better served if you had killed yourself." Mr Barnett had earlier broken down as he spoke of his family's "overwhelming hatred" of Peneha. "There are no words to describe the anguish and desperation at the loss of Krystal. It's every parent's worst nightmare," he said. "This girl will turn 21 and have a 21st birthday. Krystal won't.
This girl will get married. Krystal won't." Krystal's mother, Sharlene Barnett, said outside court the family thought Peneha would not get more than three years for killing her child. "We're more than happy with the way police handled the case, but we weren't sure about the judicial system. She got more than what we thought she'd get, but nothing would be enough. We're the ones serving a life sentence." Mr Barnett told the court how his wife was now unable to get through the day without taking anti-depressants and took sleeping pills at night.
Justice Gendall said Peneha had begun a life of drugs and crime in her mid-teens. She quickly became a "lawless menace in the community" after beginning a relationship with a gang member and became addicted to morphine and P. She used P up to five times a day. She had a string of previous convictions, including for possession of an offensive weapon and assault. She had also racked up several serious driving convictions, including once failing to stop to see if someone was injured, drink-driving twice – on one occasion at more than four times the legal limit – and driving while disqualified.
Peneha was still disqualified at the time of the crash that killed Khan and Miss Bennett. Peneha's lawyer, Steve Manning, said she had no excuses and was struggling to cope with the fact she had killed two people. Peneha was teary-eyed during parts of Mr Barnett's statement, and her face contorted as Justice Gendall handed down her sentence. She was escorted from the courtroom, glancing only at her mother.
Date of Birth
Manslaughter of two young people as a result of dangerous driving while disqualified in the Hutt Valley in September 2005
Also two others were injured
Numerous previous convictions including assault, possession of an offensive weapon, drink-driving, failing to stop to see if anyone was injured and driving while disqualified
Also escaped from custody in October 2006
At large in Napier
Sentenced to 6 years 11 months with a 4 year non-parole period in August 2006
Sentenced to 2 year and 2 month concurrent terms in October 2006
Released on parole May 2012
Recalled to prison briefly January 2013
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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