Angela O’Connor has finally got what she asked for – an apology from the drunk driver who killed her daughter.
In the High Court at Christchurch on Friday, Darrin Ray Stewart stood in the witness box and read an emotional apology letter to Miss O’Connor and her family.
Stewart was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on charges of manslaughter, three charges of reckless driving causing injury, failing to stop or ascertain injury, and failing to stop for a police officer.
A tearful Stewart said:“ It was disgusting of me what I did. I was not in a fit state to drive, the outcome was the worst that I can think of . . .”
Last week The Star revealed Miss O’Connor was waiting for an apology from Stewart for her 18-year-old daughter, Alexia Noble’s, death.
Miss Noble was killed on November 16 when the car Stewart was driving drunk and high crashed into a building at a school on Gloucester St. He fled before emergency services arrived.
While Miss O’Connor says she accepts the apology, she will not forgive Stewart and is not happy with the length of the jail term he received.
“I’m not happy with the sentencing but there is nothing we can do about that. When people are killed, people get off too lightly.
“You take a life, you should do life. These car crashes are not stopping, there was one again last night that came down our street,” she said.
Miss O’Connor said she and her family would have liked to see Stewart’s sentence start at seven years imprisonment.
She said some of her family members, including Miss Noble’s twin brother Zackery, who was also involved in the crash, was taking the sentencing “really bad.”
Previously Miss O’Connor said she wasn’t interested in engaging in a restorative justice meeting with Stewart. She is now considering it.
“Not right now, but you never know,” she said.
Stewart was also disqualified from driving for five years.
Defence counsel Anselm Williams said Stewart had always expressed his sorrow and remorse, but there had been no opportunity to give his apology to the family until then.
“I think of ways that I could change what has happened, and it hurts me that I cannot bring her back. I did not do the right thing once the accident happened and I am sorry for this. Alexia and I were best buds at work and the memories we have are amazing.
“What hurts me the most is that she is gone. I really can’t explain how sorry I am to you all,” Stewart told the court.
DARRIN STEWART’S APOLOGY
To the family and friends of Alexia.
I am deeply sorry that this has happened. It hurts me everyday.
Not a minute of every hour goes past that I don’t think of her.
It was disgusting of me what I did.
I was not in a fit state to drive the outcome was the worst that I can think of.
I think of ways that I could change what has happened, and it hurts me that I cannot bring her back.
I did not do the right thing once the accident happened and I am sorry for this.
Alexia and I were best buds at work and the memories we have are amazing.
What hurts me the most is that she is gone.
I really can’t explain how sorry I am to you all.
Please accept my apology.
– Darrin Stewart