Name suppression lifted

A Mosgiel woman responsible for an accident which injured a 97-year-old man who died in hospital three weeks later from complications has been fined and disqualified.

Sarah Jane Brown, a 43-year-old nurse, was originally charged with careless driving causing the death of Crawford William Robinson Madill on March 13.

That charge was later amended to one of causing injury and Brown pleaded guilty. In the Dunedin District Court yesterday, she was fined $1500, court costs $132.89, and disqualified from driving for 12 months. Judge Dominic Flatley refused an application by counsel Bernadette Farnan for Brown's name to be permanently suppressed.

He said he accepted it was a difficult situation for the defendant and for the victim's family. It was also a difficult sentencing exercise for the court. But he had to take into account Brown had a conviction in 2010 for driving with a very high breath-alcohol level - 1133mcg. She also had subsequent convictions for driving while disqualified and careless driving.

And while Ms.Farnan said the defendant had resorted to alcohol to cope with stressful events, the judge said people had difficult events in life to deal with all the time and it was not an excuse to say she resorted to alcohol then drove a vehicle. Brown's demerit points record showed she had been detected driving ''far too fast'' on several occasions, Judge Flatley said. Ms.Farnan said Brown had gone through restorative justice with Mr Madill's family and had agreed to make a $1000 donation to a particular Taieri church. She asked for the interim order for name suppression to be made permanent for reasons which the judge agreed to suppress.

It was ''an irony'' for the defendant to be in the situation in which she found herself, given she worked in a caring professions, Ms.Farnan said. The defendant was unable to explain the accident and did not believe she had been speeding. She believed part of the problem was the lack of a speed warning on the particular bend and she had written to the LTSA to ask for that.

Brown had remained with Mr Madill and comforted him until an ambulance arrived.

She had been ''shocked and saddened'' when she learned of his death.

A psychological report referred to the extreme hardship she could suffer if her name was published. But Judge Flatley said the public had a right to know about such offending. It involved an issue of public safety. It had been moderately serious and was accentuated by the defendant's relatively poor driving history. It was not just ''an unfortunate one-off lapse of attention''.

And while the victim did not die as a result of the accident, but ultimately of pneumonia, the impact of the accident was likely to have contributed to that, the judge said. Although the defendant had expressed particular concerns about what could happen if her name was published, the judge said he could not imagine other people would react in such a way ''in such tragic circumstances''.

He declined to grant final name suppression.

 

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