Bike smash driver fined, but escapes conviction

Wednesday September 30, 2015 Written by Release/CS Published in Crime

A charge of careless driving causing injury has resulted in a discharge without conviction for Vaiana George.

 

The discharge without conviction, which has the effect of a complete acquittal, came at a sentencing hearing before Chief Justice Tom Weston last Friday.

The matter was tried before a judge and jury for two days on September 18 and 21.

The case related to an accident between a motorcyclist and a motorcar which occurred on Ruaunga Rd, a small road running towards the airport on the back road at Nikao, on September 30, 2014.

The driver of the motorcycle claimed that at about midday George reversed her car onto Ruaunga Road carelessly, and collided with him, breaking his left leg.

George claimed that when she heard the motorcyclist travelling from her left, she stopped on her driveway and waited for the motorcycle to drive past behind her before carrying onto the road.

Witnesses for the defence said that the motorcyclist had not been looking at the road just moments before the accident and struck the vehicle’s back bumper before hitting a concrete pillar box and breaking his leg.

The facts of the case were heavily contested between the two parties and the jury retired for over three hours before returning a guilty verdict.

In his sentencing address, Chief Justice Weston said that in terms of the gravity, the accident was at the lower end of the scale. There was no question of speed, tiredness or alcohol and the degree of carelessness was minimal. The Chief Justice said the accident was more bad luck than anything else.

Lead counsel Robert Samuel provided the court with documents supporting George’s contributions in numerous charities and her membership of a service organisation. The threat of a conviction to her standing in various charities and her job were treated as mitigation for a discharge without conviction.

Under section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1980-81, the court, after inquiry into the circumstances of a case, may at its discretion discharge the defendant without conviction.

Chief Justice Weston discharged Mrs Vaiana George without conviction and ordered that she pay the complainant motorcyclist reparations of $2,000.

At sentencing the Crown was represented by Phoebe Dengate Thrush and George was represented by Auckland-based barrister Robert Samuel, assisted by Norman George.

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