Drink driver jailed for manslaughter after crash killed Canterbury midwife

Tim Crownshaw, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 3:35PM
Daryl John Price was jailed at the High Court in Christchurch today. Photo / Tim Cronshaw
Daryl John Price was jailed at the High Court in Christchurch today. Photo / Tim Cronshaw

Drink driver jailed for manslaughter after crash killed Canterbury midwife

Tim Crownshaw, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 3:35PM

A drunk driver found with meth and cannabis in his system who killed a midwife in a horror head-on crash has today been jailed for more than five years.

Daryl John Price, 42, who had got drunk after an indoor cricket tournament and decided to drive, was sentenced at the High Court in Christchurch this morning.

The family of Tai Tarulata Dixon were in court today and gave victim impact statements outlining the devastating impact of Price's actions.

They say they've never seen any remorse from Price.

Midwife and mother-of-two Tai Dixon was killed in the June 2, 2019 crash. Photo / Supplied

Midwife and mother-of-two Tai Dixon was killed in the June 2, 2019 crash. Photo / Supplied

Mother-of-two Dixon was driving from her home in Selwyn to Christchurch Hospital on June 2, 2019, when Price smashed into her at the intersection of Sandy Knolls Rd and West Coast Rd near West Melton at about 9.50pm.

She sustained critical injuries and died at the scene.

The court heard that Price, who earlier pleading guilty to manslaughter and driving intoxicated, had competed in an indoor cricket tournament at Action Sport last Queen's Birthday weekend when he went to a bar with teammates after playing the B grade final.

He drank three or four bottles of beer at the bar before heading to prizegiving at Robbie's Riccarton Sports Bar and Restaurant.

He had another beer but then his demeanour began to change. He became obnoxious and loud.


When he tried to buy another beer, he was refused service.

A teammate bought two jugs of beer and filled a trophy with one jug before all members of the team took a drink from it.

But then Price downed the second one-litre jug in one go, before drinking three-quarters of another bottle of Heineken a teammate had left on the table.

During a game of pool, Price tried to start a fight with one of his teammates.

The agitated Price was told to "stop being an idiot" and to "pull his head in".

Price said he needed to get home to Fairlie and was told not to drive.

He was offered a bed for the night but Price refused, saying he had to get home.

When he walked outside to his van, a teammate followed. He fell over in the car park and had to be helped up.

In the driver's seat, Price smoked a substance out of a pipe, which did not appear to be tobacco.

Price then became aggressive and said he needed to get home.

His teammate tried to take his keys but he refused to hand them over.

He started his van and backed into a temporary wire fence before leaving, narrowly missing other parked cars.

Price was driving on the opposite side of the road near Sandy Knolls Rd when he collided head-on with Dixon who had tried to swerve and avoid the smash.

A toxicology report later showed that Price's blood-alcohol level was 183mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg.

Cannabis and methamphetamine were also found in his blood.

He told police he had no recollection of events after the team prizegiving. He admitted he smoked cannabis daily but denied taking methamphetamine. Price later acknowledged the meth may have been from the Friday before the tournament.

Dixon, who was 40 when she died, had moved from England to New Zealand in 2009 and shifted to Canterbury after meeting her husband Scott.

In his victim statement, Scott Dixon described the Selwyn mother-of-two as a wonderful person.

Dixon says he doesn't believe Price is truly remorseful and the family has had no closure more than a year after her death.

He says Price is a worthless burden on society who is alive when his wife is dead.

A bearded Price faced all the victims as they read out their reports, blinking often and later casting his eyes down.

Choking back tears, Dixon read out the statements for his daughters.

The eldest daughter says their mother was killed by a bad man who was drunk.

She is scared of the dark, as that was when their mother was killed.

Both of them miss their mother's cuddles and they were going to Disneyland with her, but can't now.

The younger daughter says she is really sad and didn't want the bad man to crash into her mother's car.

They don't get to play with their friends much now because their Mum can't drive them.

"I'm angry at the bad man and want him to die."

Scott Dixon says he fell in love quickly with his wife, and she was his world and soul mate.

The 39-year-old says Tai would help people out when they needed it most and she related to people who had fallen on tough times.

As a midwife, she received lots of feedback for her care and compassion.

In the last days of her life, she was helping a prisoner.

Dixon says this irony is not lost on him now, as he faces the man who killed his wife.

He says Tai loved her daughters deeply.

"One of the things that weighs on me is that she was forever denied attending their weddings."

Dixon says his children have changed and become very quiet.

He says Tai died alone and in terror - an image that will always haunt him.

The midwife had been on a night shift leading up to the car crash.

After a bath with her girls, she breast-fed the youngest daughter, and tucked them into bed. She left early for work and was worried about ice on the road.

Dixon texted her to be safe, then the dogs went "nuts" and had to be taken outside because they were barking so much.

Dixon thought a police officer who came to the door was looking for a prowler, but was then told Tai had died.

He formed a mental list about what he was going to tell the girls, on the way to identifying the body.

Escorted by his brother, he went to the room to see her "broken body". He held on to her shoulder to say his final words, and was relieved to see there were no tears on her face.

The next day, the daughters didn't believe him at first when he told them about the death of their mother.

Contacting Tai's UK family and friends was a difficult ordeal.

Dixon says he's worried about the long-term health of his daughters, who wake up often at night.

Tai's UK-residing sister, Kaitlyn Hartley, says she was particularly interested as a midwife in helping the disadvantaged, and women who were having difficult births.

She says they were expecting a visit from her, when news of her terrible death arrived.

Her whole world hasn't re-balanced since.

She says Price chose to use methamphetamine, smoke cannabis and drink alcohol - before knowingly driving a car when he wasn't fit.

Tai and her family have suffered as a result.

Hartley urged Price to work towards rehabilitation, rather than feel sorry for himself.

Tai's father, Bernie Hartley says his daughter was a lovely caring person, who got a first-class degree in midwifery.

Hartley says he was happy that she left to go to a good country like New Zealand, even though he knew he wouldn't see her much.

As a result, he was looking forward to her return to the UK, scheduled a month after she was killed.

Hartley says the horror of their loss will stay with them all their lives.

He's lost sleep, suffered depression and post-traumatic syndrome symptoms after her death.

Hartley says the court process was delayed unnecessarily by the lack of a guilty plea initially.

He says Price has shown no remorse, was late at the last hearing and sat close to them initially.

But Price's lawyer Jeff McCall says from very early this year he has shown remorse.

McCall says he's getting counselling for his alcohol and drug consumption, which stems from his upbringing.

He says Price knows he's caused significant harm and the disintegration of a family unit.