Family’s shock at jail sentence
The family of a Cromwell man who contributed to the death of his friend say they are ‘‘numb and in disbelief’’ at his shock jail sentence.
Cody Ethan Mitchell, 23, of Cromwell, was sentenced to 15 months’ in prison without the possibility of early release for careless driving under the influence of alcohol causing death.
His friend, Andrew Paul Grubb, 20, of Palmerston, died in Dunedin Hospital five days after he fell from a quad bike driven by Mitchell in the early hours of September 11.
Mitchell’s father Steve Mitchell said he was not looking to exonerate his son from the consequences of his actions and expressed his deepest sympathy to the Grubb family.
But he ‘‘most definitely’’ did not agree with the sentence handed down in the Alexandra District Court last week.
The Department of Corrections, police and Mitchell’s lawyer Justine Baird had sought a sentence of home detention.
At a December 6 hearing, Judge Dominic Flatley indicated home detention would be an appropriate sentence.
However, Judge Michael Turner said jail was the only option.
‘‘We are numb and in disbelief that this has happened because we weren’t expecting it,’’ Mitchell’s mother Linda Mitchell said.
Linda Mitchell spoke with her son by phone at the Otago Corrections Facility in Milton on Thursday and said he was ‘‘flat’’.
Mitchell was concerned for his two-year-old daughter he shared custody of with a former partner, and whether an appeal had been lodged.
It could be a month before the family could visit Mitchell, she said.
Grubb’s father, Jeff Grubb, said he preferred not to comment on the sentence.
Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said without knowing the intricacies of the case, there appeared to be grounds for appeal. The sentence appeared to be harsh.
‘‘It’s certainly at the upper end with some of the cases we’ve been involved in ... A lot of the cases that are worse than that end with home detention.
‘‘There’s a few oddities there...It really opens it up for an appeal,’’ he said.
Wanaka mountainbiker Phoebe Young at Sticky Forest.