No excuse for fleeing

The Herald reports:

An unlicensed driver “panicked” and fled after she fatally struck and ran over a motorcyclist.

Fatima Mohammed, 48, driving a Honda CR-V, did not stop after running over Ian Charles Johnson with both the front and rear sets of her car’s wheels at a Hastingsroundabout last June.

Police found her later at the house of a friend.

Johnson, 73, died in Wellington Hospital almost three weeks after the crash, having suffered multiple injuries including fractures of his ribs and spine.

Accidents can happen, and we should not judge too harshly drivers, unless they are clearly reckless. But what we should be harsh on is leaving someone to die, and not stopping. When you flee the scene of a serious accident, you are saying you care more about what happens to you than the injured person.

Judge Mackintosh said a case of this type was difficult because careless driving was a charge with a lower penalty and there was no way she could impose a sentence which reflected the emotional impact on the victims.

The maximum sentence for a charge of careless driving causing death was a short term of imprisonment but in such circumstances it had to be commuted to a community-based sentence.

She ordered three months of community detention with a curfew to be at home from 7pm to 8am every night.

She also imposed 150 hours of community work, 12 months of supervision, and ordered reparation of $15,599.

The maximum term for careless driving causing death is only three months. Bot for failing to stop, it is five years. For the latter offence, community work seems inadequate.

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