Death crash driver remains undue risk, Parole Board rules

A driver who caused a crash that killed a Taranaki teenager has been denied parole after refusing to attend programmes he committed to undertake during restorative justice with her parents.
In August 2018, a southbound ute driven by Kevin Ronald Bishell, 40, crossed the centreline and ploughed into a car driven by Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg on State Highway 3, near Waitara.

The 18-year-old, who was described by her family as their shining light, died at the scene.

After initially denying charges of dangerous driving causing death and refusing a request for a blood sample, Bishell pleaded guilty in October 2019.

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In November 2019 he was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court, ordered to pay the victim's family $1000 in reparation, and disqualified from driving for four years.

The Parole Board met with Bishell in February at Whanganui Prison, via audio visual link, where he is serving a sentence of two years and six months.

It found Bishell had done nothing in prison to reduce his re-offending, other than attending sessions with a mental health counsellor, which at best was only indirectly related to that offending.

The key treatment which, in our view, he needs to undertake, he is not at present prepared to do, the Board's decision said.

In that situation the Board has no hesitation in finding his risk remains undue.

The Board said Keightley-Triggs family had attended a restorative justice meeting with Bishell where he had made a commitment to take all steps available to him in prison to make changes.

The parents of the victim said that they saw hope for Mr Bishell because they believed that everybody is capable of change.

Simon O'Connor/Stuff
Shaun and Suzie Keightley attended a restorative justice meeting with Bishell and say they are disappointed he hasn't followed through with a commitment to attend all programmes necessary to address his offending. (file photo)

They placed a lot of weight on his commitment at the restorative justice meeting that he would take all steps available to him in prison to make those changes.

Bishell, however, believed his commitment was only to engage in mental health counselling.

Even after discussing the familys concerns with Bishell and clarifying their expectations to attend the drug treatment programme and medium intensity rehabilitation programme, he refused to do so, the Board's decision said.

Kevin Ronald Bishell was jailed for two-and-a-half years, disqualified from driving for four years and ordered to pay $1000 in reparation in New Plymouth District Court. (File video)

Olivias mother Suzie Keightley said the family felt let down by Bishells failure to complete what he had committed to do.

Obviously it is disappointing, and we have asked those questions of the Parole Board, she said.

We hope that he will want to do those programmes before he leaves.

Keightely said she was researching what the programmes involved before deciding what to do next.

Bishells family had also given an undertaking they would encourage him to do everything he could in prison to ensure he left a changed man, the Board decision said.

Andy Jackson/Stuff
Kevin Bishell was driving a Fowler Homes ute, belonging to the company's former owner Locky MacMillan, at the time of the fatal crash. (file photo)

We urge Mr Bishell to consult with his family around his decision not to undertake those programmes.

An address where Bishell wanted to live once he was released was not checked by Community Corrections as it was deemed too close to where the victims family lived.

The board said ultimately it would decide whether an address was suitable and the victims parents could be agreeable for him to live there.

If Mr Bishell meets his undertakings, we understand that may well be their view.

Bishell will appear before the Parole Board again in July before his statutory release date of September 25, 2021.


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