New Zealand Police v RC [2019] NZYC 520

Published 02 December 2019

Reparation — careless driving causing injury — emotional harm — direct loss — consequential loss — welfare and best interests — victim harm — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 247(b), 283, 284 & 287 — United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The young person, RC, admitted one charge of careless driving causing injury at Family Group Conference. He had been driving back from the beach in a ute with a trailer attached when the trailer disconnected and struck the victim. The trailer did not have a warrant of fitness or factory-fitted safety pin. RC was not aware of these issues but also did not check. This hearing was to determine the amount of reparation that should be paid by the young person to the victim. The victim suffered substantial injuries and flow-on medical and legal costs. Reparation to the tune of $10,000 was sought, however s 287 of the Oranga Tamariki Act provides that the Court can only make orders for the cost of replacement and cost of repair (direct loss). A reparation order cannot be made for consequential losses. The victim could not show any direct losses caused by the offending. However, the Court is able to order payment of emotional harm reparation, at a quantum deemed to be fair. The approach taken in regard to whether to order reparation for emotional harm and if so how much, was guided by general and specific sentencing principles, most relevantly: the young person's wellbeing and best interests; public interest, including safety; the interests of the victims and accountability, and the factors in s 284 of the Act. The Judge added that post amendments made to the Act, which came into effect from 1 July 2019 the Court is required to ensure a young person's rights under the UN Convention are respected and upheld, citing relevant comments from the general comment issued by the UN on 18 September 2019. The young person had already paid $500 which was being held by the police. The sum had been borrowed from his mother and it was all he and his family could afford. The form of carelessness resulting in the accident was not at the higher end of the scale. The young person was struggling with the guilt he felt and showed genuine and extreme remorse. He had offered to help the victim and the victim's family in practical ways but this offer had been declined. The Judge determined an emotional harm reparation of $500 was appropriate in the circumstances. The Judge acknowledged the victim and their family had suffered enormously as a result of the accident and would likely be disappointed by this outcome, but reparation orders must be made in accordance with the law and on the facts of the particular case. Judgment Date: 30 October 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *