In a poignant scene unfolded before the Blenheim District Court, a man, Dray Yozaine Matthews, was sentenced to nearly five years in jail for his calamitous choices in a moment of frenzied retribution on Christmas Day. Fueled by anger and a skewed sense of justice, Matthews, who had previously led a clean and law-abiding life, transformed into a law unto himself, leaving a teenager broken and gasping for life.
What had started as an ordinary Christmas evening quickly degenerated to an unfathomable nightmare for the teenage victim. Under the influences of alcohol, the 17-year-old fell prey to mischief and created chaos on the streets of Blenheim. The smashing sounds from outside propelled Matthews into action; filled with rage, he spotted the teen holding an iron bar near his property. Little known to the victim, hell was about to-ensue.
Our society often narrates gripping tales of crime and punishment; however, this incident revealed a terrifying blend of vigilantism and vehicular violence. Armed with his partner’s keys and harboring a perverse intent of ‘assistance,’ Matthews set forth on his savage journey for justice. Casting all reason aside, he accelerated his car towards the teenager, deliberately harnessing the vehicle’s speed to enforce his skewed justice.
The teen’s world came crashing down as Matthews’ vehicle hit him with a brutal force before attempting to crush his body in reverse. The pained cries faded into the Christmas night as Matthews drove away, leaving the young boy writhing in unimaginable agony. His insensitivity echoed in his chilling words to his partner, “I got him,” inadvertently signing his own warrant of condemn.
Plunged into despair and confusion, the victim’s parents grappled with this senseless tragedy thrust upon their family. To watch their son, crippled and groaning with pain, lying on the cold hospital bed was more than any parent could bear. The sight of their child, fighting for his life against the cruel hand fate had dealt him, pushed them towards agonizing pain every passing moment. Silence descended upon the courtroom as the mother voiced her heart-wrenching question, “How could someone hit my son and leave him like a piece of rubbish?”
The defense’s portrayal of Matthews’ character painted a contrasting picture of the offender. He was, by all previous accounts, a well-adjusted youth. His job as a merchandiser, his stable relationship, and the absence of a criminal record were vital testament to the drastic aberration this act was from Matthews’ normal behavior.
Interpreter of justice, Judge Jo Rielly, dissected the cataclysmic incident with stringent precision. She acknowledged the letters of remorse sent by Matthews, but the lack of admittance of intentional harm irked her. Despite Matthews’ reticence in admitting his calculated actions, she accepted his regret. The judge welcomed reports of childhood traumas that might have fueled his anger but asserted that any leniency would only jeopardize the system’s credibility.
In her ruling, she detailed the gravity of Matthews’ dreadful actions—a rebellious act of extreme violence and weaponization of a car that ended in an unforgivable hit-and-run. She awarded Matthews a 20% reduction in his prison time for his backstory, leading to his instincts of self-destruction. Thus, he was sentenced to four years and ten months of incarceration, with the actual release date in the hands of the Parole Board.
The parents’ pain, grappling with the aftermath of this grueling incident, serves as a stark reminder of the indiscriminate cruelty that clouds our world. In our darkest moments, we must not lose sight of the inherent good amidst us. The road to recovery may be steep, but it’s in these trials that we find our true strengths, build resilience, and rediscover hope. This tragic incident serves as unsettling evidence that life-shattering changes can happen in a split second, even on the most celebrated of days.