Drunk driver who killed pregnant Northland teen jailed

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Nga Roimata Beattie-Rihari from Moerewa was killed April 20 when a car driven by repeat drink driver Ioakimi Sale hit her parked vehicle.

A Northland man who killed a pregnant teenager after crashing into a parked car while almost four times over the drink-drive limit has been jailed for four years and six months.

Ioakimi Sale, 43, of Moerewa, was also disqualified from driving for six years by Judge John McDonald in Kaikohe District Court on Thursday.

The sentencing – Sale’s seventh for drink driving – comes after he earlier pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol causing the death of 18-year-old Nga Roimata Beattie-Rihari.

Sale also pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident without checking if anyone was injured, and to breaching an order under the Health Act to isolate at home. The crash occurred during the level 4 Covid-19 lockdown.

Beattie-Rihari had been sitting in a car parked on Mason Ave, Moerewa, when it was hit from behind by Sale’s vehicle about 7.45pm on April 19 this year.

Sale had been travelling at speed and was on the wrong side of the road when the crash occurred.

Both Beattie-Rihari and her unborn baby, Pryncess Diana, were killed in the impact.
Her vehicle was shunted backwards into a concrete power pole while Sale’s vehicle mounted the kerb and came to rest against a house. Sale then fled the scene.

Sale blew a breath-alcohol level of 942 micrograms per litre, almost four times the legal limit of 250mcg/l, when he was located by police.

Judge McDonald acknowledged the whanau of Riomata and said he “always kept in mind your loss, your words from victim impact statements, the tragic preventable loss of your loved one and her unborn child.”

Judge McDonald said on April 19 Sale was living in Moerewa and around lunchtime started drinking alcohol. By 4pm he had run out.

Instead of going to bed and sleeping it off he got in his vehicle and purchased more alcohol. Then he returned to home where he continued to consume alcohol.

Later that night he got into his car and accelerated heavily causing the vehicle to travel at speed zig zagging and swerving down Mason ave.

“No one else was on the road, you had the entire roadway to safely negotiate,” Judge McDonald said.

”Unfortunately, Ms Beattie-Rihari was sitting in the driver seat of her vehicle talking to a friend. They were lawfully parked on the side of the road. Both saw your vehicle coming. Her friend got out of the car as she could see what was going to happen.”

Beattie was unable to do that and your car smashed at speed in to the Mazda…and came into contact with a concrete power pole.

“She was thrown from the vehicle and onto the road and as a result she died.

“She died of a severe head injury, five months pregnant with a baby girl she had already named. Instead of stopping you carried on…before coming to a stop. You didn’t get out to see if you hurt anyone.

“You acted as a mere bystander who happened upon a scene. You were grossly drunk, grossly intoxicated.”

Judge McDonald said Sale, who had six previous convictions for driving drunk, has “robbed a whanau member who they deeply loved.”

“For far too long innocent people are killed on our roads by repeat drunk drivers.”

About 30 family and friends attended the sentencing, some who were wearing tee-shirts saying Queen Roimata and Pryncess Diana.

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Victim impact statements read out by family and a Victim Support representative said Sale’s actions had “devastated the whanau and shattered their hearts”.

They spoke of a vibrant young woman with her whole life ahead of her who loved to sing, who worked at the Copthorne Waitangi and who regularly attended church.

She was a role model in the community working as a youth leader.

In a statement, her mother said two lives were taken on April 19.

“It feels like a hole in my heart, my daughter was such a beautiful girl. She was an innocent victim sitting in a parked car eating popcorn.”

“She didn’t have a chance to experience being a mother for the first time, you took that from her,” another family member said.

“There will be no first Christmas or first birthday with our moko. You took that from us.”

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