It is one of a series of courtroom disputes over paying reparations, prompting police call for victims to be put first in road crash cases.
The police prosecutor, Senior Sergeant Tuaine Manavaroa, told the criminal court that the victim’s situation was important and should be taken into consideration.
Luther Zainey, a chef at a Rarotonga resort, has admitted a charge of careless driving. He had been looking at a sign board and did not see the victim’s car stop, and crashed into it.
It was his seventh traffic offence, the court heard.
But his lawyer Mark Short said he should not have to pay the $1200 reparations sought to repair the damaged car. First, the court should be provided accident scene photos and two quotes to repair the damage.
Zainey was willing to pay half the reparation, Short said. The victim could try his luck for the remaining amount in the Civil Courts.
This isn’t the first such dispute over reparations: in an earlier case, a crash victim claimed reparations of $3,000 to fix his bike – which Short said would have been enough to buy a brand new motorbike.
And last year, Tuainekore Tereva successfully got off having to pay reparations of $600, because the prosecution had obtained only one quote to repair damage to the motorbike she’d crashed into.
In this latest case, Sergeant Manavaroa agreed that more than one proper quote should be provided – but he pleaded also for the courts to consider the harm the victims suffered.
“The victim is at a loss because of the defendant’s carelessness,” he said.
Justice of the Peace Carmen Temata delayed Zainey’s sentencing to April 21.