Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Tue 9/Feb/10 10:16am

An act of forgiveness in court by his victim's widow has led to a home detention sentence for Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton who drove drunk and killed a cyclist in a hit and run smash.

The widow, Andrea Krueger, first spoke of her forgiveness as she read her victim impact statement at Hamilton's sentencing for the death of Jens Richardon, a German citizen who was living in Canterbury.
After saying that she was struggling with her faith and found it hard to pray, she said: "Our task is to live. I really hope and pray for you, Phillip. God bless you."

She gave him a hug as she passed the dock where he was standing for the Christchurch District Court sentencing on charges which he had admitted in November.

Judge Philip Moran said her statement was eloquent and powerful. "Reading it was a feat of great courage. I wish you well."
He found that the purposes of sentencing could be achieved without imprisoning 41-year-old Hamilton. "I was moved a great deal by the act of forgiveness I witnessed from Miss Krueger."
He imposed 12 months of home detention for Hamilton at a flat in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton, and disqualified him from driving for three years.

Hamilton may later take part in a restorative justice conference with Miss Krueger, but he has been unable to offer a reparation payment for emotional harm. Defence counsel Craig Ruane said he had lost his job and the house he shared was being sold and there would likely be no equity available from the sale.

Miss Krueger said she was a 54-year-old German citizen who had lived in New Zealand since 2005. Her husband was studying for a PhD in agricultural science at Lincoln, and studying theology by correspondence.
She described their close and loving relationship.
She felt pity for the offender but got angry and upset about attitudes to drink-driving in New Zealand, she said.
She still had trouble sleeping and was a mess. She had to face each day lonely and alone. "My fear and pain and loneliness and tears seem never to stop."

Mr Ruane expressed Hamilton's sorrow and remorse. Hamilton had a previous conviction for drink-driving but it was 15 years ago.
Hamilton had been drinking during the afternoon at a tavern in Rolleston on August 6 and was seen slumped in his chair, apparently falling asleep, and stumbling from the bar.

He and his brother bought more drink at a liquor outlet and then drove home.
Mr Richardon was on a bicycle showing a reflectorised strip and flashing light, and he was wearing a helmet. Hamilton's car struck him from behind, killing him instantly.

Hamilton stopped but then drove on, knowing that he would likely be over the limit.
"You put your own self-interest ahead of the victim when you didn't know if he was dead or alive," said the judge.
Police found the car's number plate at the scene and went to Hamilton's home that night. He had a breath-alcohol level of 661mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath, but he had continued drinking at home.

He admitted charges of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol, and failing to stop and ascertain injury after an accident.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Malcy on Tue 9/Feb/10 11:52am

Warning to cyclists. Your life is worth nothing in the eyes of the NZ courts.

Even less, if the driver is drunk.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby znomit on Tue 9/Feb/10 12:00pm

:angry: :angry: :angry:
Incredible.

German cyclists are getting a rough deal in NZ
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby fatwombat on Tue 9/Feb/10 12:26pm

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3305318/Victims-widow-kisses-hugs-drunk-driver
I think it's great for her that she can forgive him, hopefully it will help resolve her stress problems from the bereavement; but the net result is that justice isn't done, the judge has sent a strong and clear message that motorists have no duty of care in regard to cyclists, he should be removed from the bench ... and made to ride around NZ cities on a bike for a year! :angry:
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby nagem on Tue 9/Feb/10 12:35pm

I said my piece in the Kapiti thread. Can't believe it really.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby istepinyards on Tue 9/Feb/10 12:44pm

I agree with the Wombat on the forgiveness front. It takes a special person to do what she did. It is also something I seriously doubt I have in me to do.
Lets get this straight before I go on. I am playing devils advocate here.

The fact the victim was riding a bike is irrelevant in my view. What are the precedence set for the actions of a driver under the influence who kills a human in a car,bike,motorbike,pedestrian ect.


I fully expect to get flamed here.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby JohnDH on Tue 9/Feb/10 12:47pm

Fatwombat, as I said on the Kapiti thread I too am glad that Mrs Kreuger is coping as best she can in these terrible circumstances. Whatever helps her to heal is good.

But there are some terrible social messages currently emanating from the courts about drivers (in particular, totally pissed ones) killing cyclists.

Here's another piece of Judge Phil Moran's sterling recent work: http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/ ... ealing-mum

Perspective much?
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Eion on Tue 9/Feb/10 1:33pm

Here's the TV3 news story with Rik's commentary

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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Henry Dorset Case on Tue 9/Feb/10 1:42pm

"prominent local cyclist"

oarsome.

where is your VORB t shirt?
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby cooper770 on Tue 9/Feb/10 1:52pm

istepinyards wrote:I agree with the Wombat on the forgiveness front. It takes a special person to do what she did. It is also something I seriously doubt I have in me to do.
Lets get this straight before I go on. I am playing devils advocate here.

The fact the victim was riding a bike is irrelevant in my view. What are the precedence set for the actions of a driver under the influence who kills a human in a car,bike,motorbike,pedestrian ect.


I fully expect to get flamed here.


I concur with you. Any death or injury regardless of the method of transport should be treated as at the very least manslaughter.
And I don't believe any here would flame you for your comments. Its just being mainly cyclists we do see things from that perspective in this matter.
I like most everyone have lost good and close friends to acts of stupidity by car/vehicle drivers
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Muz on Tue 9/Feb/10 3:10pm

Melissa_Theuriau wrote:Hamilton had been drinking during the afternoon at a tavern in Rolleston on August 6 and was seen slumped in his chair, apparently falling asleep, and stumbling from the bar.
He and his brother bought more drink at a liquor outlet and then drove home.
Mr Richardon was on a bicycle showing a reflectorised strip and flashing light, and he was wearing a helmet. Hamilton's car struck him from behind, killing him instantly.
Hamilton stopped but then drove on, knowing that he would likely be over the limit.


How does that set of circumstances equal home detention? :crazy:

Hmmm, drinking to excess, drunk driving, hit & run, plus some form of charge for the actual death and the penalty is home detention for a year and loss of license for 3....there's something seriously wrong with the sentencing at the moment...
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby fatwombat on Tue 9/Feb/10 3:33pm

To clarify my position: there are two separate issues: (1) the widow resolving her personal tragedy; and (2) justice/ law & order.

In terms of her personal issue, she needs to forgive him to be free to move forward in her own life.

In terms of law and order or justice (I know these are often mutually incompatible!! :( ), the court's role is not to reflect the victim's feelings, but to see that there are processes for restitution and rehabilitation. Where there is no recognition of wrongdoing by the offender there also needs to be retribution and/or restraint in order to prevent the offender from repeating the offence, and to signal to other potential offenders that Society (whatever the hell THAT means these days) will not tolerate the offending behaviour.

Because the sentencing is not supposed to be about simplistic retribution, forgiveness by the colateral victims should not be seen as a reason for the court not to punish the offender in a way appropriate to the crime. That is how I reconcile applauding Ms Kroeger's response with condemning the judge's response.

Istep & Cooper, I agree that it's not about car versus bike - if it was a 2-car incident or a drunken cyclist killing a pedestrian ( :butbut: :blink: ) the principles would be the same.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Rik on Tue 9/Feb/10 4:09pm

I think a more fitting sentence would be to ban the guy from drinking, and I hope he does that of his own accord. I think that would more appropriately respect the wishes of the widow.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby happybaboon on Tue 9/Feb/10 4:23pm

Good point... How come they can ban someone from driving, but they never ban anyone from drinking? IMO drinking and driving demonstrates that a person cannot drive OR drink responsibly, so they shouldn't be allowed to continue doing either.
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Re: Widow's Act Of Forgiveness Sways Judge

Postby Oli on Tue 9/Feb/10 4:25pm

As Fatwombat says, the wishes of the widow shouldn't really come into it apart from perhaps in terms of a victim impact report. The sentencing should reflect the seriousness of the crime and the possibility of rehabilitation and that's it.
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