Sisters Tayla and Sunmara Alexander were killed in the crash in the Port Hills. Photo / Supplied
A father is fuming the teen driver accused of killing his two daughters in a car crash on the Port Hills has entered a shock guilty plea in the middle of his jury trial.
Jason Alexander told the Herald he believes Levi Fiddymont should have done the “right thing” and pleaded guilty at the start.
“It’s a kick in the guts. He realised he was probably going to lose so he plead guilty for a lighter sentence,” Alexander said.
According to Alexander, he was offered a restorative justice meeting with Fiddymont, which he declined.
“I thought, ‘What? He’s had two f***ing years to apologise – not a chance. I offered him forgiveness right from the beginning.
“We had made complaints to the court for the way he was glaring at us. He has put me through hell.
“I had to sit and hear about Sunmara screaming in the car pleading for help that she was being burnt alive. I had to hear them talk about picking up bone fragments which were from Tayla’s head. He put me through all of that- it’s all been about him.
“He’s a really arrogant person and I can’t believe it,” Alexander said.
Levi Phillip Fiddymont, 21, was charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death, as well as dangerous driving causing injury and driving without the appropriate licence. On day three of the trial, his lawyer Andrew McCormick said Fiddymont wanted to change his pleas and admit to all three charges.
Tayla Alexander, 17, died instantly when the car she was in went over a bank and burst into flames on Summit Rd about 11pm on November 27 2019.
Passerbys and the emergency services, fought the fire and pulled the teenagers out.
The Defence claimed Fiddymont’s brakes failed, which the Crown denied.
Professor John Raine, of Auckland University of Technology, who has 30 years’ experience in vehicle cash investigations, reviewed the evidence.
He concluded from his calculations Fiddymont was likely doing 110km/h. Fiddymont has said he was travelling at about 65-70km/h and had pumped his brakes coming down the hill but there was nothing there.
Judge Paul Kellar remanded Fiddymont on bail, with a condition not to drive, to be sentenced on January 12.
Alexander says Fiddymont had lost his licence and allegedly lost demerit points for three previous speeding tickets.
“It just goes to show what his driving was like; I am so angry,” Alexander said. Police did not wish to comment until after the sentencing.
Sunmara, Tayla’s younger sister suffered extensive burns and died a month later on her 16th birthday at Middlemore hospital. The battle to save her had meant multiple amputations due to infections.
A teenage boy who was also a passenger suffered serious injuries and survived.
Ashton Lamborn was Tayla’s best friend and the last person to hear from Tayla minutes before she died.
In a text, she wrote: “Bro, I am going to die tonight. X. I haven’t gone so fast around Port Hills before.”
Lamborn replied: “Oh my god Tayla.”
Alexander has been consumed by grief and lengthy court delays. He has had no contact and no apology from Fiddymont – despite making it clear he forgave him for the silly mistake he made.
Two years on Alexander is less forgiving.
“He is incredibly selfish. I offered him kindness when I was at my most vulnerable. This tragedy hasn’t just affected me but also the girls’ friends. I tried to take my own life and spent a week in an induced coma, I didn’t work for a year because I couldn’t be around anyone. I turned to the bottle and I had to pick up all the pieces from that, so it’s been hell,” Alexander said.
The driver’s uncle, Paul Fiddymont, wants his nephew to know he is “there for him.”
“I am relieved he has plead guilty, but disappointed he didn’t do it earlier. “
Tayla was a “mother hen” to Sunmara – they were close in life, and in death and are buried together at the local cemetery in Ashburton. Alexander visits his daughters daily. Their brother, Dallas Thomson, is also a frequent visitor.
“Tayla always put others before herself and Sunmara was a fun-loving rebel,” Alexander said.
The last thing Alexander said to his daughters, Tayla, 17, and Sunmara, 15, on November 27, 2019 was: “I love you and be good.”
“I want the driver to know it’s not just my life he has ruined but so many others through his actions. I know he’s young he made a silly mistake but he hasn’t owned it.
“My daughters are dead. He’ll be out by the time he is 23 and he gets to have a Christmas with his family. This is the third Christmas without my girls.
“My girls were such a big part of me and now and I have an empty hole. I just want us to be together again. “