A New Zealand woman who killed two people and left a third permanently injured in an horrific car crash has written to the only surviving victim boasting how quickly time passes in prison and complaining how she misses her kids.
Nicole Reynolds was sentenced to just three years and six months last year after the crash. She had been driving on methadone and two unprescribed anti-anxiety pills.
Her sentence was reduced because of an early guilty plea and a willingness to participate in a restorative justice program, where she agreed to write one letter a month to Lance Carter.
But Lance says he has only ever received one letter and claims she only sent it because she’s nearly eligible for parole.
The letter, seen by Daily Mail Australia, is not the grovelling apology one would expect after taking the lives of the two people closest to Lance, his best mate Kenny McCrae, 52, and the love of his life, Leigh Rhodes, 60.
Instead, Reynolds, aged in her 40s, tells him she ‘can’t believe how quickly time goes by – for me, anyway’.
Nicole Reynolds, who was driving under the influence of methadone and two unprescribed anxiety pills at the time, had her sentence reduced for an early guilty plea and agreeing to participate in a restorative justice program
She says her prison ‘looks more like a girls camp than a prison’, and tells Lance, who was left with crushed organs, a traumatic brain injury, and permanent injury, about her barista qualification.
Reynolds tells the man, who lost the love of his life to her driving: ‘I miss my children immensely but fortunately they visit frequently’.
While she does say that she thinks about ‘what happened, how it happened and why it happened’ daily, and dreams about it ‘quite often’, she does not offer up an apology at any point in the three-page letter.
She signs off by telling 67-year-old to ‘please take care and look after yourself’.
Though Ms Reynolds had agreed to write one letter per month to Lance Carter, the only surviving crash victim, she has written only one (pictured). Lance believes the letter, which is dismissive of the trauma caused by Reynolds’ actions, was only sent because her parole hearing is approaching
JAILED DRIVER’S FIRST LETTER TO THE SOLE SURVIVOR OF HORROR CRASH THAT KILLED TWO PEOPLE
‘Dear Mr Carter,
‘It has taken myself a reasonable amount of time to finally get this letter to you!
‘It hasn’t been deliberate. I honestly have struggled with what to say. I have written several half letters, left them, gone back to them, and then discarded them ad i’m just unsure what to say!
‘So today I thought I am writing and sending a letter. If anything offends you, I’m sorry, it’s not intentional.
‘How has everything been? I can’t believe how quickly time goes by – for me, anyway.
‘After being sentenced in court I had never been so afraid of what was about to come. I knew prison time was inevitable, but the uncertainty was the scariest thing!’
‘I was put in a double cell in high security (all sentenced prisoners go here until classified – about a week) with a young woman in her early twenties who got about three years for grievous bodily harm.
‘She was a pleasant woman who explained a lot of what happened, the rules, etc.
‘Once I got classified to low security I got moved to “the training centre”, where they help you get a job, study, and do your prison time.
‘Once I got a job, I got relocated to the employment hub (still here) where mostly employed prisoners and low security side looks more like a girls camp than a prison.’
Lance told Daily Mail Australia he is still fuming over what he says is a light sentence, and says the judge, Thomas Ingram, went too soft on the woman who ripped away his livelihood, his ability to move with ease, his best mate and the love of his life.
‘She was sentenced to three and a half years for killing two people and just about a third,’ he said.
‘Judges in this country need to have a reality check. They should have to go back and [be the ones to] hose the bodies off the road.’
As for Reynolds herself, Lance said she had showed no real remorse, adding insult to literal injury.
He said her participation in the restorative justice program was an ‘absolute joke’, and claimed the woman was dismissive of her crime during a meeting between them.
‘There was no remorse whatsoever [during the meeting]. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t say boo,’ he said.
As for the letter, he says it’s nothing but ‘a p*** take’.
Lance had been recovering from a bowel cancer operation when he got a call from his partner, Leigh, who had burst a tyre on a busy highway in Tauranga on July 29, 2016.
He recruited his close friend and neighbour Kenny to come along and help, as he was afraid of popping a stitch.
Kenny and Lance had managed to take the wheel off of the car and were preparing to install the spare tyre, as Lance’s partner, Leigh Rhodes, used a white tyre flap to direct traffic.
Nicole Reynolds, who was at the time under the influence of methadone, and two unprescribed anxiety pills, lorazepam and clonazepam, was driving towards the group, and did not see them.
Kenny was killed instantly, and Leigh died a short time later in hospital.
Witnesses told police Reynolds had been swerving within her lane, and was clearly intoxicated by something.
The woman later told police she didn’t even know she’d hit anyone until her windscreen smashed, and had been on the methadone program.
Lance, who woke up for the first time after the accident and a second time in hospital, says the battles of physical recovery and mental recovery had been completely different.
He said he did not fully understand all he had lost until he returned to his house for the first time after the accident.
‘When you’re in hospital, you’re fighting for your own survival – you’ve got a cliff in front of you that you’ve got to take little steps up,’ he said.
‘But when you get home it’s a whole different ball game, because nobody’s there.’
Lance has benefited from extensive care and equipment to ease his transition back home, but says he struggles with the gravity of the situation in the early hours of the morning, when he wakes up alone in bed, without Leigh.
‘That’s the side that nobody sees, only you. You have your moments,’ he said.
‘You never forget, it’s always there, but it will get easier.’
He says he won’t be able to return to work, which has left him struggling financially, and will ‘never be able to walk properly again’.
‘I wobble, I don’t walk, and there’s no such thing as a run,’ he said.
‘She’s taken all of that away from me.’
Sharlene the wife of Kenny, who was killed in the horror crash, is doing well, Lance says, but the pain of what they have lost will never leave either of them.
‘We have to live with this all our lives,’ he said. ‘She doesn’t. She lives with it for 15 months and moves on, goes and does it again.’
‘I’m sure she’ll do it again.’
Lance said he was appalled to learn people taking part in the methadone program were able to retain their licenses, and said it simply wasn’t safe.
[The program] absolutely needs to change,’ he said.
‘If they’re on that program and they want it, you don’t get a license. Catch the bus, do what you gotta do.’
‘They all say it’s a failing program. Just can it, forget it. It’s taxpayer money that’s funding it.’