David Jordan Reid
Manawatu Standard story here
A "tragic game of chicken" between two drivers "playing silly buggers" in high-powered cars left one of them dead and yesterday ended in a jail term for the other.
Amy Fitzgibbon, 24, had already paid with her life for her part in what began as a race against disqualified driver David Jordan Reid, 20, and turned into a jockeying for position as their two lanes merged, Judge Murray Abbott said. In the Christchurch District Court, Reid was sentenced to 18 months jail for his part in Fitzgibbon losing control of her parents' Subaru WRX and crashing into an oncoming car containing midwife Phillipa Ansley and her seven-year-old daughter, Emily.
Reid pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Fitzgibbon and the serious injuries suffered by Ansley and her daughter. He also admitted driving while disqualified, failing to stop and continuing to drive after the accident in breach of his driving ban.
The sentence – a total of 19 months, with the prospect that Reid can apply to serve the sentence at home – prompted emotional reactions from Fitzgibbon's mother, Aileen Fitzgibbon, and from Martin Tapley, whose daughter, Emily, and former wife, Ansley, will bear lifelong injuries from the smash.
"I'm disgusted, absolutely disgusted, with that sentence," Fitzgibbon said. "He's going to get home detention – the justice system stinks." Tapley said the sentence would provide no deterrent to the boy-racer culture and "I throw my hands up in horror" at the thought of Reid serving the term at home.
"I think it's rubbish," Tapley said. "That's not a deterrent sentence. I thought it would have been more."
In court, Tapley's voice quivered with emotion as he read from his victim-impact report about how Reid's driving forced him to give up his job to care for his two children full time, how Ansley's brain and leg injuries meant she was no longer able to look after her children, how his son, Edward, became increasingly angry and withdrawn and how Emily had suffered a broken neck.
"In hospital, Emily pleaded with me: `Daddy, don't leave me. Am I going to walk again?' She was in fear of dying and she still has bad thoughts – flashbacks (to the accident) and about dying in her sleep," Tapley said. "These are things that little kids shouldn't have to deal with. "It's abundantly clear to me that these boy racers are people who have no regard to anyone other than themselves. It's self-centred, testosterone-driven, destructive behaviour. I think it's highly appropriate Reid should never drive again."
Aileen Fitzgibbon sobbed inconsolably in court as a friend read her family's victim-impact report. "Amy's father's dream of walking his only daughter down the aisle has been totally shattered," the court heard. "Instead, he had to carry her down the aisle in a coffin. Amy's mother has not only lost a beautiful daughter, but has lost her best friend.
"Amy has paid the ultimate price for her part in this, but at least Reid, when he's served his sentence, will be able to live his life and his family will get him back. We'll never get our Amy back." "I thinks it's rubbish. That's not a deterrent sentence. I thought it would have been more." Martin Tapley, father, ex-partner of injured pair
The judge said Reid had been in his turbocharged Subaru Legacy when he pulled up beside Fitzgibbon, a stranger, at the traffic lights at the eastern end of the Brougham Expressway in Opawa on the afternoon of February 15 last year. Fitzgibbon had recently watched a boy-racer video, 2Fast 2Furious, and witnesses said she and Reid revved their engines when the lights turned green, then accelerated towards where the two lanes merged.
"This was a brief but tragically fatal journey," Abbott said. "You and she engaged in a race along the initial portion of the expressway. The rate of acceleration then decreased and you continued alongside each other. "Both vehicles were travelling in excess of the speed limit, but speed in itself was not the principal factor in what then occurred.
"The principal causative factor of the tragic crash was you and Fitzgibbon were both jockeying for position. "The two of you engaged in playing chicken. To use the colloquial term, you were playing silly buggers. You were both showing off to the other. Both of you should have yielded (when the lanes merged) and if you had, there wouldn't have been this tragedy. Fitzgibbon has paid for this momentary serious error of judgment on her part with her life.
"You'll have to pay for your own serious error of judgment initially in the (jail) sentence, but you'll also have to live the rest of your life with the knowledge that you contributed to the death of another person and equally, if not more significantly, to the serious injuries suffered by a totally innocent woman and her daughter. "Phillipa Ansley will be seriously affected by the injuries she sustained for the rest of her life.
"She'll never again be able to live a normal lifestyle."
The judge said the case was aggravated by Reid's bad driving record, which included convictions for dangerous driving, excess breath-alcohol and driving while disqualified. Reid had also failed in his "humanitarian obligation" to stop and help, then continued driving in defiance of his disqualification. The judge accepted that Reid was still young, had pleaded guilty and showed remorse. Reid and his family had also been subject to "savage, sensationalist and biased" media coverage, which should be reflected in the final sentence. The judge said the jail sentence was designed to send a message that those who drove dangerously would face prison.
He imposed an 18-month jail term, with an extra month's jail for being caught driving while disqualified 10 days after the fatal smash, making 19 months in total. Reid was disqualified from driving for three years, but not ordered to pay reparation.
Date of Birth
Dangerous driving causing the death of Amy Fitzgibbon and seriously injuring two others in Christchurch in February 2004. Driving while disqualified, failing to stop, continuing to drive after the accident in breach of his driving ban. Also had many previous convictions for dangerous driving, drink driving and driving while disqualified.
Sentenced to 19 months jail in April 2005
Has been disqualified from driving for only three years, and incredibly not even ordered to pay reparation!!
Front-end home detention granted October 2005
Released statutorily January 2006
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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