Drunk and angry, Mark David Stevens drove over his partner of 16 years who had been trying to stop him going out onto a Wellington road intoxicated for the sixth time.
On Wednesday he was jailed for three years for the manslaughter of Delia Grace Williams, who died in the road in the Wellington suburb of Northland in May last year.
Stevens had pleaded guilty to killing Williams, 55, by dangerous driving.
Williams, who was a colourful character in the capital’s art scene and known for spotting emerging talent, had lived in Levin more recently.
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Stevens, 59, was originally to have stood trial for murder.
He also pleaded guilty to driving with an excess breath alcohol level.
Williams’ family packed the back of the court to see Stevens sentenced.
Williams was one of seven children and several of her siblings spoke about missing her, her bubbly, zany, artistic and loving personality.
Her mother, Shirley, talked about how Williams would call her every day and worried about her living alone.
Sister Rebecca talked about how she had disagreed with Williams about her relationship with Stevens, given domestic violence and substance abuse.
She said she felt so sad that Williams never got to see her son married or get to see grandchildren.
Son Byron McLean talked of the woman he called an amazing mother. He said it was hard not having his mother here to share his wedding day.
He said he had attended all court hearings and had looked for any sign of remorse or regret from Stevens
“Even a mouthed apology through the glass barrier” but had only received a letter on Tuesday.
He said he would eventually forgive the man who had thought of him as a son.
Justice Simon France said that after a day and evening of drinking the pair had begun arguing. Stevens tried to back out of the driveway while Williams tried to stop him.
She tried the door handle and as the door swung shut she fell.
He said Stevens then hit a parked car and drove forward, hitting her as she was trying to get up before driving right over her, killing her.
The judge said it was Stevens’ sixth drink-driving conviction.
He said there was a tendency to blame what happened on a stroke that he suffered in 2009 but there was little evidence for that.
Outside the court on Wednesday, family spokeswoman Robyn McLean said the family thought the sentence was fair
“Delia could light up a room with her larger-than-life personality and her love of people. She was caring and she is very much missed. Her dedication and passion for art, specially New Zealand art will be her legacy along with her son.”
She said the family urged anyone who suffered domestic abuse to seek help.
Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham said Williams had opened the car door trying to prevent Stevens driving
“Her motivation was to prevent him driving drunk as he had done so many times before.”
She said Stevens had made no attempt to stop and it was hard to believe him that he did not know he had hit her when both the front and rear wheels of the car went over her.
Defence lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, said whatever went on in their relationship, the two had loved each other and Stevens felt genuine loss and remorse.
She said his concern had been for Byron, who he had seen as a son.
Ablett-Kerr said Stevens accepted he should have stopped, especially when Williams disappeared from his view, but he was intent on escaping what he saw an an escalating situation.
“He is incredibly sorry.”