New Zealand Police v Tin [2020] NZDC 3396

Published 08 June 2020

Sentencing — operated a vehicle carelessly causing death — operated a vehicle carelessly causing injury — Land Transport Act 1998, s 93 — Bassett v Police [2014] NZHC 2188 — Police v Goh [2017] NZDC 28098. The defendant appeared for sentencing on three charges of operating a vehicle carelessly, in one instance causing death and in two instances causing injury. The defendant, a Singaporean national, had been driving a rental vehicle along a road near Queenstown at 70km/h and drove onto the wrong side of the road. One oncoming victim was on his motorbike on the correct side of the road and tried to swerve out of the way, but the defendant hit his motorcycle causing the victim to go flying. The victim sustained significant injuries. The defendant then hit a second oncoming car, killing the driver of that vehicle, and injuring the defendant's wife who was also a passenger in his vehicle. In determining the appropriate sentence, the Judge acknowledged that in instances of careless driving it can often seem to the victims or victims' families that the punishment is too lenient and to the offender the opposite. In approaching this, quoting Bassett v Police, "the best a sentencing court can do is be consistent". Mitigating factors included the defendant's remorse, his guilty plea, lack of prior offences, and his willingness to participate in restorative justice with the deceased's family. Given that he is a foreign national, a disqualification would have little practical effect unless he came back to New Zealand; however, the Judge nonetheless disqualified him for 15 months and ordered that he would be required to sit a driving test before driving again in New Zealand. Turning to reparation, the Judge ordered a total payment of $15,450.75 to be paid to the first victim to cover the cost of his uninsured motorcycle, and $4000 for emotional harm. The family of the deceased were to receive $7390, taking into account payments made to them by the Accident Compensation Corporation, and an additional $2000 for emotional harm. The Judge acknowledged that the defendant's wife was also a victim in this instance, but made no reparation order due to the limited amount of money available and the principle that victims who are strangers ought to be compensated first. Judgment Date: 10 February 2020.