Teen driver sentenced for fatal crash
Two wheels going off the sealed road started a spin that led to a death.
Taine Morrissey fought and failed to regain control of the ute on the morning of November 1, 2016, and the ensuing crash killed one of his brother’s best mates.
Four teenage boys were in the vehicle on the rural road near Matamata: Morrissey, his younger brother, and two college friends.
As they drove back from fundraising for a college rugby trip, the Hilux spun and then rolled twice, and Corbin Morgan was thrown onto Maiseys Road.
The 16-year-old died at the scene.
Taine Lewis Morrissey, 18, pleaded guilty to three charges of careless driving – one causing death and two causing injury – in relation to the crash.
He was sentenced to community work and a licence disqualification in Morrinsville District Court.
He was also ordered to pay $13,000 in reparation to the families affected.
Corbin’s family members held photos of him and struggled to explain their loss through victim impact statements.
The would never see him go to the school ball, get married, or become a father, they said.
Morrissey accepted the anguish he had caused and felt like the whole town hated him, according to a statement read on his behalf.
Morrissey had offered to drive his younger brother and friends to a chicken farm for their fundraising for a Matamata Col- lege rugby tour because his father was busy on the farm, Community Magistrate Kathryn Wilson said.
Visibility was good and the road was dry, but he was breaching his restricted licence conditions and tragedy struck on the way home, around 10am.
Morrissey can’t remember or explain the crash, he said in a statement read on his behalf.
‘‘I know the accident was my fault and there is nothing I can do to put things right other than to plead guilty and take responsibility for it,’’ he said.
‘‘Corbin was one of my brother’s best friends … I know that [my brother] blamed me for what happened and for the loss of his friend.’’
Morrissey was scared about his first court appearance but felt better after pleading guilty in front of Corbin’s family, he said.
A box of tissues was handed around as Corbin’s family told Morrissey what the crash had cost them. Grandmother Ngaire Morgan, who helped raise him, was at the Base in Hamilton when she got the phone call about the crash.
‘‘It was like a dark smoke bomb had surrounded us,’’ she said.
‘‘I never imagined that I would have to bury a grandchild … I had done everything in my power to keep him safe all his life.’’
The crash also hurt the sickness beneficiary financially – she spent her inheritance on funeral costs and supporting family.
Morrissey’s restricted licence stipulated that he couldn’t carry passengers or drive a manual vehicle, Wilson said.
The police Serious Crash Unit found speed was not a factor in the crash, but low pressure in all four of the Toyota Hilux’s tyres was, she said.
Several people, including Corbin, were not wearing seatbelts, though they were later found not to meet warrant of fitness standard.
In sentencing, Wilson considered Morrissey was young, pleaded guilty early, had no previous convictions, and attended restorative justice conferences. Morrissey was ordered to pay reparation or $13,000 – $12,000 to Corbin’s family and $1000 to the family of another victim.
He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community work and a 12-month driving disqualification. He must complete a defensive driving course before he can regain his licence.
Four teenage boys were in the ute as it returned from a chicken farm on Maiseys Road, out the back of Waharoa. Tyre marks show where the car lost control. Below: Taine Morrissey.