Nicholas Catlin’s recollection of what happened in the moments before he hit, and nearly killed, pedestrian Mutsuko Morisue in March is “fuzzy”.
But, he says, thinking about it makes him “feel sick”.
Last week Catlin spoke exclusively to us before being jailed by judge Bernadette Farnan for two years and four months in Queenstown’s court on Monday.
On March 10 he drank about eight beers at a Lake Hayes building site before he went to town, drank “more than a few” and bailed out at 10pm, getting in his car.
He recalls driving up Stanley Street and not much after that.
He claims to have no memory of the moment he hit Morisue, who was thrown three or four metres in the air and landed on the road 10 metres away.
The 33-year-old Brit – who has two previous convictions in his home country – drove another hundred metres before stopping the car in the middle of the road.
“I remember getting out of the car and thinking ‘oh no, I’ve crashed my car, I’m drunk, if I get caught they’ll ban me from driving’. So that’s why I decided to leave the scene.”
Catlin says he thinks daily about how lucky he was not to have killed Morisue “and it makes me feel sick”.
Meeting her last week was “hard”, but “harder for her”, he says.
“I wanted the chance, not just to apologise but to talk to her about how I could help her.
“I said ‘sorry’. Not that that was worth much.”
Given his history, he knows people will regard anything he has to say with scepticism, but says he’s finally learned his lesson.
“I should have learned my lesson the first time. The fact this time I’ve hurt someone, so badly, I never want to drink again.
“It’s the biggest mistake I’ve made.”
Morisue told him his drink-driving record showed he had a problem with booze – something he didn’t believe until after the crash. He now sees that being caught drink-driving doesn’t carry the social stigma it deserves – “especially here in Queenstown”.
“It seems like the norm – so many people are doing it.”
His message for others? Don’t do it.
“You just think you’re never going to be that person it happens to.
“But people can get hurt. Don’t get in the car, because it’s not just you. It’s all the other people you could be hurting – them, their family, their friends.’
He has to pay Morisue $7500 reparation and won’t be able to drive in New Zealand for five years. The last penalty’s technical – he’ll be deported on release.