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'We don't forgive you': Emotional, explosive scenes as whānau face killer driver

Author
Tara Shaskey,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Apr 2024, 5:13pm
Jacob John Greacen caused a crash on State Highway 3, Taranaki, that killed two people and seriously injured three others. Photo / Tara Shaskey
Jacob John Greacen caused a crash on State Highway 3, Taranaki, that killed two people and seriously injured three others. Photo / Tara Shaskey

'We don't forgive you': Emotional, explosive scenes as whānau face killer driver

Author
Tara Shaskey,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Apr 2024, 5:13pm

The sorrow, anguish, hopelessness and hatred felt by two shattered whānau were palpable as those grieving the loss of a young man and a grandmother came face to face with the meth addict who took their lives during an emotional and explosive court hearing.  

“We don’t forgive you,” Destiny Arano told Jacob John Greacen at his sentencing in New Plymouth District Court today.  

Arano, the partner of Te Matangi Broughton, and granddaughter of Maraea Arano, who both died in the road crash caused by Greacen, spun around while giving her victim impact statement to look at him, her previously calm demeanor exploding into anger as she screamed and swore at him. 

“You ruined my life. You f****** took the only f****** person who loved me,” she yelled as her voice broke with emotion. 

“I hope you f****** die.” 

Arano, who described Greacen as a murderer, continued to yell as she was taken out of the courtroom by whānau members. 

Greacen stood in the dock sobbing. His eyes had previously been fixed on the photos of Te Matangi and Maraea, which whānau had framed and brought to court. 

Judge Gregory Hikaka called for order as Arano left, calling it an abuse of the court process and that it undermined the mana of those who had passed. 

He was inclined to end the reading of the remainder of the victim impact statements but allowed the whānau to continue after they indicated no further disruption. 

In total, eight whānau, including survivors of the crash, read statements, all of which spoke of their utter sadness, anger, and the irrevocable shattering of their lives. 

Te Matangi, 23, was described as a passionate chess player, a man in his prime with an infectious and warm smile. He had been a favourite uncle to his nieces and nephews, the go-to man for all of his whānau, and a hero to his brother. 

As a mother of six, grandmother to 30, and a great-grandmother to five, Maraea was described as the matariach of the whānau. 

She was a caring, dependable and staunch Māori woman whose door was always open to all of her mokopuna. 

A common theme in the victim impact statements was the torment of knowing that all Greacen had to do was “stay in his own lane” and all of the subsequent pain would have been avoided. 

He was described as selfish and reckless and it destroyed the whānau knowing that one day he would be able to return to his family, when theirs was now missing two members. 

They all expressed a lack of faith in the court system. 

Two vehicles collide 

Greacen, now 36, was speeding west in his van along State Highway 3, in Motunui, Taranaki, with two bags of meth on his passenger seat, on November 22, 2022. 

About 1.20am, Arano, 22, was eastbound on the same road with Te Matangi in the backseat, alongside her two siblings, aged 12 and 13, and Maraea next to her in the front. 

Arano was travelling under the 100km/h speed limit, while Greacen was travelling between 107km/h and 131 km/h. 

As he approached a curve in the road, he moved into the eastbound lane and into the path of the victims. 

When Arano realised his van was in her lane, she tried to swerve to avoid him but it was too late and the vehicles collided. 

Te Matangi and Maraea died at the scene while Arano, her siblings, and Greacen were taken to Taranaki Base Hospital. 

While there, a blood sample was taken from Greacen and found to contain meth, also known as P, and Tramadol, an opioid prescription pain medicine. 

Jacob Greacen was sentenced in New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Tara ShaskeyJacob Greacen was sentenced in New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Tara Shaskey 

The surviving victims each sustained multiple serious injuries. 

When police attended the crash site, a container holding 6.2g of meth was found in the grass behind Greacen’s van. 

A couple of weeks later, police executed a search warrant on his van and found two bags of meth, one containing 0.5g and the other 0.6g, on his passenger seat. 

Following a serious crash investigation, the causative factor of the collision was identified as Greacen’s failure to remain in his lane and his crossing into the victims’ path. 

Speed, fatigue and the effects of the drugs were also contributing factors. 

At the time of the crash, Greacen was on bail pending sentence for manufacturing meth, for which he has since been sentenced to two years and six months. 

‘It just doesn’t cut it’ 

In court, Crown prosecutor Rebekah Hicklin called for an end sentence of at least five years and 11 months, to be served cumulatively with his other sentence. 

She said only a 15 per cent credit for his guilty pleas was warranted, arguing against any discounts for remorse, his background and his physical and mental injuries. 

Hicklin said the irreparable loss, the physical injuries suffered by the survivors and the psychological harm the survivors and whānau now all endured was the most serious aspect of the offending. 

This was aggravated by the decisions Greacen made that day - which included breaching his bail, consuming meth and tramadol and then driving while fatigued and over the speed limit. 

He had previous convictions for driving and meth offending as well as breaching court orders. 

Hicklin said he had persistently engaged in this type of offending despite multiple efforts of the court to rehabilitate him. 

He had completed two residential rehab programmes before the crash and had not used any of the tools he learned to aid his relapse. 

“This is persistent serious offending by an offender with a history of persistent and serious offending.” 

Jacob John Greacen caused a crash on State Highway 3, Taranaki, that killed two people and seriously injured three others.Jacob John Greacen caused a crash on State Highway 3, Taranaki, that killed two people and seriously injured three others. 

Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield, KC, said Greacen accepted he was to blame and his actions were indeed reckless and selfish. 

He acknowledged the hurt and anger expressed by the whānau. 

Mansfield said Greacen had a “very difficult” upbringing, which included exposure to drugs, alcohol and abuse from a young age, resulting in serious issues including addiction. 

His childhood was described as unstable and he spent time in state care. 

Greacen has now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his background and due to the crash offending, Mansfield said. 

There was no evidence of previous dangerous driving or of him having a reckless attitude on the road, and he was genuinely remorseful, he submitted. 

“This is not a case where there was otherwise deliberate, reckless and or dangerous driving, albeit the speed was above the posted speed limit but not so as to be a cause of the accident itself. 

“It appears it was sadly fatigue as a result of his use of the drug.” 

Judge Hikaka said there needed to be a balance between protecting the community and the rehabilitation and reintegration of Greacen. 

After considering all of the submissions and weighing up the aggravating and mitigating factors, he sentenced Greacen to five years imprisonment, to be served cumulatively with his current sentence. 

The judge allowed credit for his guilty pleas, a total 10 per cent discount for his background, remorse and PTSD diagnosis, and three months credit for totality. 

Greacen was also disqualified from driving for five years. 

As the whānau left the courtroom, they expressed their contempt for the sentence. 

Outside court, Arano said: “It just doesn’t cut it”. 

“I don’t think that’s enough for two lives.” 

Maraea’s daughter, Elizabeth Ritchie, was devastated by the outcome and left frustrated by the justice system. 

“It just isn’t fair,” she said. 

“But at the end of the day, no amount of time is ever going to bring them back.” 

Tara Shaskey joined NZME in 2022 as a news director and Open Justice reporter. She has been a reporter since 2014 and previously worked at Stuff where she covered crime and justice, arts and entertainment, and Māori issues. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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