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Tuesday 6 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, Crime, National


Two and half years’ loss of licence for drink driving incident which ended in serious injuries
A family group of holidaying visitors returning from a night out was struck by a car at Muri in July. They were walking by the roadside near the Nautilus when an approaching vehicle veered into the group, hitting three of the family. Police Media/22120416

A drink driving woman crashed into a family of five tourists leaving two of them, a mother and daughter, with serious injuries.

Jacqueline Parker appeared in the High Court at Avarua on Thursday, facing two charges of careless driving causing bodily injury and one of excess breath alcohol.

Parker, 53, drank so much, she could not remember what happened.

It was described as a “rather spectacular event that could have ended in tragedy”.

“It appears you fell asleep and ploughed into a family of tourists who were walking along the road,” Justice Colin Doherty told her.

“A mother and her 18-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries, the most serious was the daughter, they were from New Zealand and holidaying here.

“The young woman was studying at university and has only been able to return recently back to part time studies.

“The psychological effect has made her lose her motivation for study, she has had to undergo plastic surgery; she will probably have scarring for the rest of her life.”

The court heard the victims had been compensated through the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) system, but there had been a significant loss of $18,000.

Justice Doherty said Parker was five times over the legal limit.

Police said a starting point was imprisonment to deter drink driving.

“You made a dramatic mistake, a big mistake,” Justice Doherty said. “I need to show the community you will be held accountable; the ultimate deterrent is imprisonment, but it will victimise your children who are dependent on you.”

Defence lawyer Mark Short described the case as “really sad for both sides”.

The defendant had letters of reference from employers and the church.

Short described the incident on the night as a “very bad decision”.

“She is willing to take responsibility, she did undertake counselling to assist her, so this never happens again.”

Short said it was her first offence and she was remorseful.

“If she has to serve time, her community are supportive.”

Justice Doherty sentenced her to 18 months of probation; the first nine months, in community service.

“You will have to give back to the community, you will take part in any programmes probation directs.”

She was told not to leave the Cook Islands without permission from the court, then disqualified from driving for two and half years.