In Avarua’s High Court on July 20, Odette Stanke was disqualified for driving for nine months and will be on probation for a year for careless driving causing injury.
During the sentencing, Stanke heard despite
being disqualified she can still drive for work purposes.
The incident occurred on August 18, 2019, when
a right-hand turn from Stanke near Friendly Mart in Arorangi resulted in two
New Zealand tourists falling off their motorbikes. The incident resulted in
substantial injuries to both victims.
Stanke pleaded not guilty to the charge and a
two-day emotional court case took place from April 22 and 23 this year.
The New Zealand victims appeared on the video
conferencing app Zoom from New Zealand and accused Stanke of ruining their
One of the victims, Deborah Fahey said the
crash left her with a permanent scar on her forehead that makes her feel
The other victim, Lynda Whitehead said she
suffered from multiple injuries that included a knee injury that required ACL
surgery (anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction).
In April she said she was still recovering.
Whitehead said a shoulder injury
from the fall also took four months to heal. She said she had exhausted the New
Zealand government’s physiotherapy funding.
As part of the sentencing, Stanke was ordered
by Justice Patrick Keane to pay $5000 in repatriation fees towards the victim’s
medical costs. Stanke is required to pay this at a rate of $50 a week.
Stanke’s lawyer, Michelle Tangimama during sentencing told
the court her client needed to drive so she could work.
Speaking with Cook Islands News after the trial, Tangimama said her
client, “still needed to live”.
It resulted in Stanke being able to drive from 12 noon to 4pm Monday to
Friday and Saturday from 8am to 12pm for the next nine months.
Crown prosecution wanted the defendant to attend community service but
this was rejected by Justice Keane because Stanke is to pay the repatriation
Stanke will attend a course related to driving as part of her probation.