'We were pushed in a corner': Mother of Rouxle le Roux's hit-and-run victim pleads for change

The mother of an Auckland teenager killed in a drug-fuelled hit-and-run is pleading with MPs to make the justice system fairer for victims. 

Charlene Kraatskow's 15-year-old son Nathan was killed in May last year after being hit by a Mercedes-Benz driven by a young woman who fled the scene. 

The driver, 19-year-old Rouxle Le Roux, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December to 11 months' home detention, 25 hours of community work, and was disqualified from driving for two-and-a-half years.

Judge Nicola Mathers took her young age, clean record and early guilty plea into consideration, and her sentence was reduced from three-and-a-half-years jail time.

The reduced sentence sparked backlash across the country, with National MP Mark Mitchell calling for tougher punishment, and more than 185,000 people signing a petition to appeal it. 

But the Crown Law Office said it would not appeal.

The victim's mum is now calling on MPs to "review legislation relating to custodial sentences for people found guilty of either manslaughter or careless driving causing death". 

She appeared before the Justice Select Committee on Thursday, and she does not think home detention should be an option for offenders who fail to immediately surrender to police. 

Charlene Kraatskow and her husband Orion.
Charlene Kraatskow and her husband Orion. Photo credit: Newshub

Le Roux had been drinking and smoking cannabis before she got behind the wheel of a vehicle and hit and killed Nathan at the Oteha Valley Rd off-ramp in Albany. 

Nathan died at the scene and Le Roux - who was on a learner's licence - failed to stop and check on him, turning herself into the police the following day. 

Kraatskow is asking MPs to make the court process fairer and more victim-focused. 

"A lot of times we felt like [Le Roux] was the victim."

She said Le Roux was given the advantage in various situations. 

"She could have a sit-down with us, and if we said no, then she got a discount on it."

Mark Mitchell, a member of the committee, said the "whole picture is disgusting... I don't believe there was any remorse at all". 

Nathan's mum said she was told it would be better to take a plea bargain from the offender or else she would have received an even lighter sentence.

"We weren't in a great position... We were pushed in a corner." 

Rouxle Le Roux.
Rouxle Le Roux. Photo credit: File

She added: "For someone who was under the influence and not driving how she should be driving on a learner's licence, we didn't feel that this was the right sentencing for her."

She said she "knows good people make bad choices", and acknowledged that the young offender had been struggling with mental health issues. 

But Nathan's mum said she does not believe Le Roux showed true remorse. 

She said she did not understand why Le Roux's Instagram post of her dressed in a prisoner's costume for Halloween with the caption "hide your children" was not considered in her trial. 

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said at the time the post sat uneasily with the young woman's claims of remorse. 

In March, the offender apologised over another social media post in which she described her new life motto as: "kill 'em with kindness". 

She later explained she had been living by the expression due to the amount of criticism she had received. 

Rouxle Le Roux's Instagram post.
Rouxle Le Roux's Instagram post. Photo credit: Instagram

Kraatskow's husband, Orion, who joined her at the select committee, also said the offender's social media post should have been given more consideration in the trial. 

Labour MP Clare Curran, a member of the committee, asked the couple if it was brought to their attention that there could have been a complaint made through the Harmful Digital Communications Act. 

"No, not at all," Nathan's mum said. "Our 13-year-old daughter, she's seen it all."

Le Roux later said she regretted the post and described it as "ill-thought-out". She wrote an apology letter to the sentencing judge and Nathan's family. 

Nathan's parents said it would have been helpful if someone had "come and explained things to us - someone who's not involved with us or with [the offender] to come and explain what's going to happen". 

They also questioned Le Roux's home detention sentence, telling Newshub it is like "carrying on with life" and describing it as a "holiday at home". 

Le Roux allegedly breached her home detention conditions in February after failing to respond to two visits where probation officers knocked repeatedly on the door of her home. 

Corrections decided not to pursue the charge laid against Le Roux.

The couple said they were pleased that MPs at the select committee had heard them, and hope that people going through a similar experience can be more prepared. 

They told Newshub they would like to see Le Roux's case reviewed, but were told it's not possible. 

"All we can do is hope to change things and make it better for other people."

Newshub.

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