Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Road Accidents'

Nayan Woods’ Dad replies to “Misplaced Sympathy for the Killer of a Teenage Boy


A couple of days ago, I received a personal email from Duncan Woods, whose 4-year-old son Nayan was killed when when 18-year-old Ashley Austin lost control of his illegally modfied car and ploughed into the Woods family on the pavement. It was clear from the tone of Duncan’s email that my post had caused him considerable distress. 

We have corresponded several times since I received Duncan’s original email, and Duncan, who was at first understandably reluctant, has now generously agreed to my publishing a composite version of his emails. I have done the same with my own fairly brief replies. 

I suggested to Duncan that I should not publish any comments on his statement, since the aim of the exercise from my point of view is to provide Nayan’s father’s perspective on the issues raised in the post, not to reopen the debate. 

Duncan Woods Writes

Greetings Brian, 

Many people have expressed many opinions about the decisions my wife and I have made in reagrds to dealing with the death and injury of our children. Unfortunately these opinions are formed from the perceptions they hold based on the limited information they have access too. Many assumptions have been made yet not once has anyone, media or otherwise, asked me why I am choosing to behave the way I am. I have yet to read, view or hear any representation that comes close to being accurate. 

It is easy to spout position and opinion, be outraged and angry. It is not easy to see your dead four year old son in pieces in the dungeons of the hospital whilst dealing with the significant injuries suffered by your wife and other child. Each day gets a little harder, I sleep maybe three or four hours a night, it takes every ounce of strength I have to throw my feet on the floor each morning and face the day. 

I bet it is easy to write down an imaginary victim impact statement where you can imagine screaming at another human being that you don’t want their remorse. It is somewhat more difficult to write an actual one and deliver it, particularly when, uninvited, the eyes of the nation are upon you. 

I understand your job as journalist and that opinion pieces are or rather can be controversial. I appreciate that you indicated an admiration for Emma and me.  My real issue was with the the next part of the sentence where you wrote:  “I find their plea that Austin not be sent to prison (for however short a term) misguided…” 

How you have reached such a conclusion without knowing the thinking that informed the decisions we have made is where I am troubled. I have to behave in ways that I think will best serve my living son. I don’t believe that if he grows up in a family dominated by anger and hatred that his needs are best served. To that end I am as thoughtful as I can be with the messages released to media. At seven years old he is not old enough to fully understand what has happened to him, but as he gets older I am sure he will have questions and feelings that will need to be supported. Our judgement based on the knowledge that we have of our son is that behaving with compassion and empathy towards Ash is the best thing we can do for him (Jacob). Time may show this to be a mistake.  I hope that it is not. At this stage Jacob has no desire to meet with Ash. We have given him that opportunity, but he may feel different at 17 or 27. If so, the decisions we make now about preserving a relationship with Ash and his family are safeguarding future opportunities for him to have questions that he may have answered . It is not only Jacob we have a responsibility to, however. He is our most significant focus, but  our wider family don’t deserve a life of bitterness and anger, so we believe we are helping them also by the position we are taking.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Misplaced Sympathy for the Teenage Killer of a Four-Year-Old Boy

Austin hugs Emma Woods after sentencing. Pic: The Press

I’m rarely in agreement with Michael Laws, but I was in general agreement with his column in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times. Laws was discussing the sentence handed down to 18-year-old Ashley Austin. 

As he was attempting a ‘a controlled drift’ in Christchurch’s Linwood Avenue, Austin’s illegally modified car had mounted the grass verge, driven across the footpath and ploughed into Emma Woods, her  4-year old son Nayan  and his 6-year-old brother Jacob.  Nayan could not be resuscitated and died at the scene. His brother was seriously injured. 

Austin, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Nayan and injury to Jacob and Mrs Woods, was sentenced to six months community detention, 200 hours community work and disqualified from driving for three years. The seemingly inadequate sentence reflected Austin’s conduct at the scene – rather than running off, he had stayed and  attempted to resuscitate the four-year-old  – his evident remorse and the wishes of the boys’ parents,  Emma and Duncan Woods. 

The Herald reported: 

In a remarkable display of forgiveness, Emma Woods embraced a sobbing Austin outside Christchurch District Court after the sentencing this afternoon. 

“We do not believe he can be punished any more severely than by having the guilt of this accident on his conscience. [Mrs Woods said] 

“I guess he made a mistake that had pretty horrendous consequences, but that doesn’t make him a bad person. 

“And he’s done a lot since the accident to attempt to make amends or try to support us. 

“I don’t think somebody like him belongs in jail. I don’t think he’s going to learn anything from being in there. The mistake he made, he’s not going to do it again.”   Read the rest of this entry »