Drink-driver accepts responsibility for fatal crash

A drink-driver has accepted he killed his 21-year-old passenger when he crashed into a concrete fence post and tree stump on a rural Canterbury road.

Tyler Croll-Davis, 24, pleaded guilty to the crash in the Christchurch District Court today – more than 14 months after the early morning crash on the Methven Highway that killed David Muir.

Members of the victim’s family were present at the court to see him plead guilty to the drink-driving causing death charge, as well as three charges of driving while disqualified.

He has been convicted at least twice previously of disqualified driving so the convictions carry heavier penalties.

Defence counsel Nick Rout said Croll-Davis now accepted that he must have been the driver.

“He’s been remorseful since the beginning. He just wanted to make sure the police have got it right,” said Mr Rout. There were matters that Croll-Davis simply could not remember.

After the crash, Croll-Davis got himself out of the car and walked to a nearby farmhouse to get medical assistance for himself. Mr Muir had been killed instantly in the crash.

Croll-Davis initially told the police that Mr Muir had been the driver and he had been a passenger. He said other people were also in the car.

Crown prosecutor Sophia Bicknell Young said that on December 19, 2016, in the Ashburton District Court, Croll-Davis was convicted of failing to stop for the police, aggravated driving while disqualified, and dangerous driving. He was imprisoned for nine months and disqualified for a year.

In August 2017, he was driven to Methven, where he bought a car and drove it 15km home.

A few weeks later, he took a workmate’s car and drove it on a rough stretch of road. Because of pre-existing damage and his driving he caused extensive damage including causing a wheel assembly to break off.

He drove another workmate’s vehicle on the night of September 1 to 2, 2017, after drinking and socialising with Mr Muir. Croll-Davis drove with Mr Muir in the passenger seat, and both were wearing seat belts.

Croll-Davis lost control on a straight stretch of road and the car slid sideways into the concrete post supported by a tree stump.

The Crown dropped two charges of unlawfully taking the cars involved before Croll-Davis pleaded guilty to the remaining charges.

Judge Farish said she believed a restorative justice meeting with the victim’s family would be beneficial if the family were willing. Mr Rout said Croll-Davis was apprehensive about meeting the family but wanted to have the meeting.

Judge Farish remanded Croll-Davis in custody for sentencing on December 13. She referred the case for a possible restorative justice meeting and asked for a pre-sentence report.