Day of mourning on baby’s birthday

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    Ruby-Jane Harris. Photos: Supplied

    YESTERDAY should have been a day of celebration for Brooke McDowall-Blick.

    It should have been a time of blowing up balloons, blowing out candles and eating cake as her daughter Ruby-Jane Harris celebrated her first birthday.

    Instead, Ms McDowall-Blick mourned the death of Ruby, who never got to reach that milestone, and mourn her partner, who was not there either.

    On Tuesday, the man who was responsible for Ruby’s death, the death of Ruby’s father, Matt Harris (22), and the injuries sustained in the crash by Ms McDowall-Blick and 17-year-old Ella Ashley was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court.

    Wilson Prasidh Narayan (46) crossed the centre line on September 2 while travelling north on the Lorneville-Winton Rd and caused the carnage that resulted in loss of life, injury and grief.

    Ms Blick bravely stood before Narayan in court on Tuesday and explained what her life had become since the crash.

    Matt Harris.

    “Matt was my partner, my love, my life, and Ruby was my first baby and my everything.”

    She did not remember much about the crash. Immediately after the crash she was told her daughter was “OK”.

    “I got to the hospital and they told me she didn’t make it. My heart broke into a million pieces.”

    About three or four hours later she was told Mr Harris had also died.

    They had been travelling to a job interview when the crash happened and had plans, she said.

    “We were going to get married, go on holidays together and of course have more children.”

    She said she thought about the day over and over. “I’ve got nothing else to say to you now apart from tomorrow [Wednesday] I would have been celebrating Ruby’s first birthday with Matt, but I can’t do that because they are gone.”

    Mr Harris’ mother and Ruby’s grandmother, Cathy Harris, said her family’s grief was “terminal”.

    “I don’t think of you as a killer, but your actions killed. The decisions you made, the actions you took, they killed.”

    Ella Ashley, who was unable to be in court as she had her seventh surgery last Friday, had her statement read out.

    She had sustained multiple injuries as a result of the crash.

    The 17-year-old school pupil was on her way to Invercargill to receive tutoring, and had left earlier than usual so she could buy her father a gift for Father’s Day.

    “My body no longer works, or looks, the way it did before,” the statement said.

    “I will never, ever be the same again.”

    For Ella’s father, Mike Ashley, the memories of the crash will be with him forever.

    Mr Ashley had reached the crash site, just before his daughter was taken away in a helicopter.

    When he reached the scene, Ella’s bloodied clothes were lying on the road.

    “You will never know what it was like for me to watch the helicopter fly away and not know whether my girl was going to make it or die,” he said.

    Mr Harris’ sister, Laura Harris, the aunty of Ruby and sister of Matt, said she forgave Narayan.

    “I believe these events will haunt you as they haunt me,” she said.

    In sentencing, Judge John Brandts-Giesen said any sentence given out would be inadequate.

    “Everyone will leave this court room today unsatisfied with the result because I am bound by the law, I am bound by the decisions of higher courts,” he said.

    He said reading the victim impact statements was one thing, but hearing them read out by those impacted, was an even more affecting experience.

    “There is nothing more poignant than hearing you say what you felt.”

    It was believed Narayan had either blacked out or fallen asleep at the time of the accident.

    He pleaded guilty to five driving charges in relation to the crash on September 2 careless driving causing death, two of careless driving causing injury, and one of careless driving.

    He also pleaded guilty to a sixth charge of careless driving for a separate crash on October 16.

    Narayan was sentenced to six months’ home detention, ordered to complete 100 hours’ community work and pay $4000 in emotional harm to Ella and $8000 to Ms McDowall-Blick.

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