They tried restorative justice – now this family needs the restoration of its faith in the court system

Alf has a great deal of sympathy for the family of a woman who was killed by an overtaking car while out jogging.

The family has been angered by the sentence meted out to the plonker who was at the wheel when the woman was killed.

He should be in jail because he had 64 previous driving infringements and has lost his licence on a few previous occasions.

That he was not banged up attests to a judge who has been too lenient.

He has also been given an easy ride because he took part in some of that restorative justice nonsense that has become de rigueur in the justice business.

The pissed-off family was not told – or claim they were not told – that kow-towing to this process would result in the offender being given a lighter sentence.

The Herald reports that Deanne Cooper, 36, of Hawera, was running on Ohangai Rd in Taranaki almost a year ago when she was struck by a car.

Initial indications were that the car was overtaking another vehicle when it hit her, police said at the time. The driver stopped and gave her first aid, but she died at the scene.

Today Karl Anthony Peacock, 29, was sentenced in the Hawera District Court to six months home detention on a charge of aggravated careless driving causing death, Radio New Zealand reported.

He pleaded guilty to hitting and killing the mother-of-three, as he drove towards Hawera, the broadcaster said. He was overtaking a slower vehicle, and was on the wrong side of the road at the time he struck her.

He also admitted in court to smoking cannabis earlier that day.

Besides the home detention, Peacock was disqualified from driving for two-and-a-half years and ordered to pay $6000 in emotional harm reparations to the Cooper family.

But the family are furious he was not jailed.

“We were hoping for a custodial sentence with the seriousness of the crime,” her brother Aiden Wards told Radio New Zealand.

“And we didn’t know until court that he had 64 previous [driving] infringements and lost his licence four or five times.

“We just thought, ‘he’s not learning from his mistakes and he’s kept going until he’s killed someone’, and then he gets six months home detention as a slap on the wrist.”

The judge gave Peacock credit for taking part in a restorative justice session with his victim’s family, showing remorse, having a young family and a stable job, this Wards feller said.

“But we were pretty shocked [by the sentence].”

He was “glad” to have taken part in the restorative justice meeting, “because we got to confront him”, he said, but would not have agreed to it if he had known it would influence Peacock’s sentence.

“We were told by the restorative justice and the police that it has no effect on the sentencing, but Judge Roberts said he would take two months jail off the sentencing because of that. He’s taken it into account, but he took other things as well.

“I got a lot out of the restorative justice, but …”

Wards also doubts Peacock was remorseful.

“I think he was worried about going to prison, but I don’t think he showed a lot of remorse in a lot of his actions.”

Wards said the family found the judicial system “very disappointing and frustrating”, and had been left feeling “powerless”.

He has good grounds to feel aggrieved.

Alf will take the matter up with ministerial colleagues but dear old Amy, our otherwise splendid Minister of Justice, seems keen on giving this restorative justice things a fair go, which is more than it gives families like those involved in this case.

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