Mother of drugged driver victim feels 'demoralised' by Police Minister

News 16/05/2019

The mother of a young man killed by a driver high on cannabis and meth is demanding an apology from the Police Minister.

Karen Dow said Stuart Nash promised a discussion document on how to catch drugged drivers would be released earlier this year, but last week said he didn't recall making such a promise.

"I felt incredibly demoralised," Dow told The AM Show on Thursday.

It's been a rollercoaster week with all this coming to the fore.

The document was released on Wednesday, a week after Dow presented a petition to Parliament calling for roadside drug testing to be introduced.

"Political agendas need to be put aside... I don't care who puts this in force. We've seen how quickly Bills can be introduced [in Christchurch]. We've seen how quickly things can move when a political push is there."

Dow's son Matthew was driving to Tahunanui on New Year's Eve 2017, and Takaka woman, Alicia Fulcher-Poole, was going the other way. She'd been up late the night before smoking meth, and had been drinking that day.

"She had been called into the police recklessly trying to overtake, driving close up behind other vehicles, speeding," said Dow. "She pulled out on double yellow lines, saw Matthew too late, tried to correct, flipped the vehicle."

She hit and killed Matthew instantly.

She said Matthew was "an incredibly safety-conscious young man. He'd never had a speeding ticket, parking ticket, anything like that."

And Dow’s heart sank when she discovered the cause of the accident.

"There were cars ahead of Matthew and behind Matthew. It could have been any of these families - unfortunately, it was ours..."

It's not something I wish on any family in New Zealand.

The number of people killed by drugged drivers is increasing, and is beginning to approach the number killed by drunk drivers.

Dow was at Parliament when Nick Smith was booted out of Parliament last week by Speaker Trevor Mallard after the National MP accused him of being "soft on drugs". Dr Smith had been trying to introduce a Bill to change roadside drug testing laws.

Dow, who yelled at Nash from the public gallery, wants him to apologise for not introducing the document, let alone a Bill, sooner.

"I think he needs to apologise to all of New Zealand, and so does Trevor Mallard. He is supposed to be impartial."

To shut this down is a slap in the face of democracy.

She herself apologised to Mallard for interjecting.

"I'm not the type of person to sit down quietly when I can see something that's incredibly wrong being done."

A spokesperson for Nash told Newshub Dr Smith has refused to work with Nash on roadside testing legislation, a discussion document worked on by National before the change of Government was "inadequate and incomplete", and a Member's Bill introduced by another National MP last year was "too narrow". 

The spokesperson said there was a delay in introducing the discussion document because the police policy team working on it had to urgently work on gun legislation, following the March 15 terror attack in Christchurch.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Dan Satherely