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Careless driving matter finally goes to trial after two years

Thursday 14 September 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National


Careless driving matter finally goes to trial after two years

A driving related matter that has been before the courts for nearly two years is being heard by a jury on Rarotonga.

Heather Joy Webber-Aitu, represented by defence lawyer Norman George appeared before a jury and Justice Colin Doherty at the Criminal High Court in Avarua yesterday.

She is charged with careless driving causing injury.

It is alleged Webber-Aitu, on March 1, 2021 drove carelessly on the Tupapa Main Rd, causing bodily injury to the victim.

She has denied the facts.

Crown Law senior prosecutor Jamie Crawford said the facts were that Webber-Aitu on March 1, 2021, a Friday at around 7.30pm, carelessly drove a motor vehicle causing injury to the victim Lalagofaatasi Williams on the Main Rd in Tupapa.

Crawford said the victim was driving from Matavera while the defendant left work in Avarua and stopped outside the Hartel store.

She said the victim saw the defendant, but the defendant was not indicating to turn right.

Crawford said the victim slowed down and kept driving, when the defendant made a turn and hit the victim’s bike.

Crawford said the victim suffered a broken arm and lacerations during the crash.

George said the Crown was wrong in charging the defendant.

The victim, Williams, was the first Crown witness.

She is part of an Apostolic Missionary Church in Rarotonga and has been on the island for around six years.  

In response to the Crown’s questions, Williams said she was on her brother in the Lord's motorbike, she did have a drivers licence, and she was heading to the TEM’s store to purchase her top up (phone credit) when the incident occurred.

She said it was a bit dark, she could see, and the bike which was an automatic, had its light on, and she was wearing a helmet.

She said she was driving at about 40 kilometres per hour.

She said when she was approaching the Hartel store, the defendant’s vehicle was stopped in front of the shop.

She said she slowed down and when she was driving past, the defendant’s vehicle turned.

Williams, continuing to respond to the Crown, said the defendant was not indicating whether she was turning, and when the defendant turned, the vehicle hit the front of her motorbike.

George asked the victim if getting her phone top up was urgent and if she was speeding. The victim said it was not urgent.

He said his client would say the motorbike the victim was on was a black one and not blue, the victim said it was blue.

He said his client would say the victim did not have the bike lights on. Williams said she did not  agree.

The two-day trial is expected to wrap up today.