Richard Wani Adlam
The family of a 13-year-old girl whose life was "ripped away" in a car crash say the driver of the car she was riding in knew it was dangerous and may as well have let her play with a gun.
Richard Wani Adlam, 31, was jailed for four-and-a-half years by Justice Simon France in the High Court in Palmerston North on Friday for manslaughter and dangerous driving causing injury in relation to a crash that killed Levin teen Te Rehia McGhie.
Te Rehia was a passenger in a Subaru Legacy Adlam was driving when it collided head on with another vehicle on State Highway 1 between Otaki and Levin on November 10 last year.
Adlam had traded a PlayStation 4 for the unwarranted, unregistered car a month prior to the crash.
When Adlam went to collect the car, he was told it would need towing because the front right brake had seized.
Instead, he clamped the brake hose with a set of vice grips, releasing the pressure on the brake disc and causing the brake pads to fall out.
He later noticed issues with the brakes but did nothing to fix them.
On the day of the crash, he was driving about 50kmh on a grass verge with Te Rehia, who was his neighbour, in the car.
The brakes failed when he tried to stop, sending them careening into oncoming traffic and head-on into Paul McMahon's Ford Falcon.
Read more: Man admits known car defects caused teen's death
Te Rehia died at the scene, while McMahon suffered broken ribs, a broken sternum and a dislocated shoulder.
Tests revealed Adlam had cannabis in his system on the day of the crash.
Te Rehia's mother Harriette Sidney and father Andrew McGhie, told the court Adlam was a neighbour they had known for several years. They had trusted him and saw him as a friend.
Victim impact statements revealed the family had been "broken" by Te Rehia's death.
Te Rehia's sister Leana Sidney, 20, said that day had changed their lives forever, and 10 months later, very little had changed.
"It is so very hard to live with the fact that my baby sister has had her life ripped away by a man who should have known better.
"She will never feel the joy of falling love, getting married or having babies of her own.
Te Rehia's father said he struggled with depression, had difficulty functioning and rarely left the house.
"I feel it should have been me who died, I feel I have anyway.
"I'm still waking up in the morning crying and crying in the evenings as well.
"In my mind I talk to Te Rehia a lot. I have a framed picture of her on the kitchen table and I sit there telling her my feelings. I'm finding it difficult to focus on the positives."
The judge said the consequences of Adlam's offending had been "devastating".
"I can only imagine how hard it is to lose a child. To do so in circumstances of such total stupidity must almost be too hard to bear.
"The situation concerning Mr McMahon is also tragic. Not only has he suffered physical harm and ongoing consequences on the accident but it has revived hard memories of the loss of his own son in a car accident."
The judge said Adlam's string of driving offences over the past 12 years, , needed to be taken into consideration.
"It's a record that says you don't really care about others." He disqualified Adlam from driving for four years following his release from prison. Outside the court, a spokeswoman for Te Rehia's family said the driving disqualification was laughable. "He's already breached that, that was just a piss-take. "To take that car in the state it was in, in a 100k zone...why didn't he just let her play with a broken gun?" "I doesn't matter what he got, it's never going to bring her back."
Date of Birth
6 June 1986 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Te Rehia McGhie and Paul McMahon
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Levin family of 13-year-old killed in crash 'broken'
Richard Wani Adlam Sentencing Notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
|Event Date||Event||Court Location||Offence Type||Offence Date||Committed While||Sentence Imposed|
|11-9-2015||Sentencing||High Court Palmerston North||Manslaughter||10-11-2014||4 Years, 6 Months, Imprisonment||▼|