Road crash case in court

Friday 23 April 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National


Road crash case in court

Emotions were high in yesterday’s High Court sitting as two New Zealanders recalled a road accident that ruined their Rarotonga holiday.

Defendant Odette Stanke, previous to yesterday’s trial had pleaded not guilty to a charge of careless driving causing bodily injury. Her defence lawyer is Wilkie Rasmussen.

Crown lawyers, Annabel Maxwell-Scott and Lisa Williams, called four witnesses before Justice Patrick Keane who was on video conferencing app Zoom from New Zealand.

Three witnesses were involved in the crash and one was a police officer who came to the scene after the accident. The two New Zealand tourists appeared in court by joining the Zoom video conference.

According to Crown witnesses, on August 18, 2019 Stanke allegedly caused the accident.

The court heard she allegedly pulled to the side of the road, without indicating and slowed to almost a stop. The other three bikes went to pass her but Stanke pulled out without warning; it seemed to the witnesses that she was doing a U-turn.

In the process Cook Islands local Steven Cuthers hit the front of the car and two New Zealand tourists, Lynda Whitehead and Deborah Fahey, fell off their scooters.

The incident took place outside the Friendly Mart store in Arorangi.

Fahey said she was on a family holiday with Whitehead and her family, a total of 12 people. They had plans to go four-wheel driving, snorkeling and seeing Wigmore’s Waterfall.

“It was awesome, well, was going to be awesome,” said Fahey.

Fahey said Whitehead was in front of her and fell first when the car pulled out in front.

The court heard that Fahey, who was wearing a helmet, then tried to avoid crashing into her friend. She slid, fell, and hit her head hard on the pavement which led to heavy bleeding.

“That was when the driver of the vehicle got out of the car and said, what happened?”

In response, Fahey said she told the defendant: “What the …. do you think happened, you pulled out of nowhere?”

“Her care factor was zero,” Fahey told the court.

Fahey got emotional during defence counsel Rasmussen's cross-examination.

At one-point Fahey said, “No, you’re trying to put words in my mouth and I’m not appreciating it”.

Justice Keane reminded Fahey it was the defence counsel’s job to ask questions. Keane said he understood the situation was tense for the witness.

The judge also asked Rasmussen to control the pace of the questioning and for Fahey to answer the questions.

Rasmussen questioned Fahey’s skill to ride a scooter, where the incident happened, and the speed at which she was riding.

The other two people in the accident, Whitehead and Steven Cuthers were also witnesses.

Police officer Kimiora Makitae was the Crown’s final witness.

Today the defence will present its evidence. The trial is expected to be completed today.