Fatal crash driver begins sixth jail term

A 24-year-old drink-driver who killed his passenger in a crash near Methven has now begun his sixth jail term.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish jailed Tyler Croll-Davis for three years nine months and disqualified him from driving for five years over the death of 21-year-old David Muir.

Croll-Davis accepts he was driving when he crashed Mr Muir’s car into a concrete fence post and tree stump on the Methven Highway on the night of September 1 to 2, 2017, after they had been drinking and socialising.

Croll-Davis initially told police that Mr Muir had been the driver and he had been the passenger, and other people had been in the car. He pleaded guilty last month after accepting that although there were matters about that night that he could not remember, he must have been the driver.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing today on a charge of drink-driving causing death, and his fifth and sixth charges of driving while disqualified.

Mr Muir’s family read a series of victim impact statements at the sentencing in which they described him as a healthy, active man, who had loved the outdoors. He had been a talented gardener, and artist, who had loved fishing. He had really cared about people and had looked forward to being a qualified gardener.

His workmates had dedicated a seat and plaque to him at the Ashburton Domain.

They said toxicology had shown that Mr Muir had little alcohol in his system, but Croll-Davis was over twice the legal limit. It was a mystery why Mr Muir was not driving his own car. They hoped Croll-Davis would change and not let his past actions define who he was from now on.

Defence counsel Nick Rout urged Judge Farish to reduce the sentence because of Croll-Davis’ age and “the unfortunate circumstances of his upbringing”.

But the judge said she could not do that, because he had already been given many opportunities, and had served five terms of imprisonment.

She accepted he was remorseful, noting that he had been in tears at an earlier hearing, and he had sat downcast in the dock as the family of the victim read its statements. She hoped that he would meet the family at a restorative justice conference during the sentence.

She also apologised to the family, saying that the delays in the case had been “frankly inexcusable”.

She said: “The criminal justice system doesn’t well serve either defendants or victims in terms of timeliness. It is too long-winded and it is a resourcing issue. It takes an inordinate amount of time to get matters before the court.”