A Northern Ireland woman who was killed in a crash in New Zealand in December just after her 28th birthday never got the chance to wear the bridesmaid’s dress set aside for her at her sister’s wedding.
Kirsty Moffett, from Donaghcloney in Co Down, had been working at Dunedin Hospital on South Island for almost two years when she died.
A judge in New Zealand sentenced 49-year-old Tracy Joy Shaw to 120 hours of community service on Wednesday.
Shaw admitted careless driving, causing Kirsty’s death on the outskirts of Roxburgh on December 13 last year, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Shaw was also disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay $7,500 in reparation. The maximum sentence available was a three-month prison term, a fine and disqualification.
In a statement read to the Alexandra District Court on Wednesday as the family watched via audio-visual link from their home, Kirsty’s mother, Hazel Moffett, said her daughter loved life.
“I have lost my darling precious daughter and my heart has been absolutely torn apart, and I miss her every day,” she said.
A former pupil of Banbridge High School and gifted runner, Kirsty Moffett loved sports and music, which she shared with her churches in Northern Ireland and New Zealand.
She was living and working in Dunedin as a physiotherapist and was returning from a weekend celebrating her birthday in Queenstown when the crash happened.
Nathan Moffett said he still felt angry about losing his sister and sad that he had not replied to her last WhatsApp message on her birthday in which she said “I love you” with “I love you too” before the crash.
Sister Natasha said she broke down when she came across a list of Kirsty’s favourite things, including beautiful sunsets, Maltesers, Taylor Swift and perfume. “The pain that I feel having lost my sister is overwhelming and debilitating sometimes,” she said.
Father, Sam Moffett, said he visualised his daughter travelling in her car on the day she died.
“I hear her scream as the vehicle impacts her car. I hear her moan as the life slips from her body.”
He had not yet seen the word “sorry” from Shaw, he said. “It is a sad reflection on humanity and not the attitude one would expect from a mother.”
Judge Emma Smith said the women were travelling in opposite directions along a straight stretch of road and within the 80km/h limit when the crash happened after Shaw’s vehicle swerved suddenly and crossed the centre line into the southbound lane.
Her vehicle hit the driver’s door of the oncoming car, instantly killing Kirsty.
Shaw told police she could not remember the crash, in which she and her son suffered minor injuries.
There was no clear explanation as to why Shaw crossed the centre line, the judge said. She decided there was a moderate level of culpability after medical tests suggested Shaw could be suffering from cardiovascular issues but it is not known whether that caused her to lose consciousness.
The family said they had faced costs of $40,000. Shaw was ordered to pay reparation of $7,500 in recognition of her personal circumstances, the judge said.
She had written a letter to the family, which would be passed to them.
“The sentence you will likely consider unjust, if not insignificant given your loss,” the judge told the Moffett family.
“There’s nothing I can do or this community can do to make it better or reduce your anger or pain because we can’t bring Kirsty back.”