The victim of a late-night ramming incident on an isolated
gravel road says he feared for his life.
Logging contractor Michael James Hurring (51) appeared in the
Dunedin District Court before Judge Kevin Phillips yesterday
and pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.
Judge Phillips described Hurring's offending as ''gung ho''
and high-level dangerous driving.
After his court appearance yesterday, the Balclutha
businessman told the Otago Daily Times he was just
trying to stop what he honestly believed to be people
poaching on the property.
''I asked them to stop at the gate and they drove off and
locked us in. Why would you do that if you haven't done
However, his Invercargill victim told the ODT: ''It
was an experience that hopefully we will never ever go
On the night of April 13, last year, he was driving his
Toyota Hilux with two passengers after a hunting trip on a
Hurring, who was hunting on the same property, noticed the
Hilux on the property and assumed its three occupants were
Unbeknown to him, the men had been granted permission to hunt
on the property. Hurring, with two passengers in his vehicle,
followed the Hilux off the property and on to Cairn Rd.
He had his vehicle's headlights on full beam and a spotlight
directed on the Hilux.
Hurring turned off his headlights and began to swerve across
the road, then rammed the Hilux from behind, causing it to
Hurring put his vehicle's headlights back on and continued to
swerve behind the Hilux.
The Hilux turned into Slope Down Rd and Hurring again rammed
The Hilux slid and almost tipped, but the driver regained
control and travelled south.
Judge Phillips said Hurring continued to follow the Hilux and
rammed it again, then abandoned the pursuit.
''This was all done at speed, approximately 80kmh, and must
have been most frightening and alarming for the occupants of
the victim's car,'' the judge said.
The victim, who declined to be named, said Hurring ''rammed
us so hard'', a black Labrador curled up on the back seat
''got fired over my head and ended between the window and the
The Labrador's legs were caught up in the steering wheel as
the vehicle - travelling at 80kmh on a gravel road - went
sideways as the driver tried to flee the unknown assailant.
''We had a lot of luck on our side ... we were getting slung
around that gravel road like we were a rag doll.''
He said the trio feared for their life during the ordeal.
''It was in no-man's land, no cellphone coverage.''
The men were left shaken after the ordeal. His vehicle had
panel damage, buckled rims, minor chassis damage and a
buckled tow-bar system.
In court yesterday, Judge Phillips told Hurring: ''You let
yourself totally down, by not taking cognisance of the harm
and danger you were creating by your manoeuvres.
''You jumped to conclusions, in which you were quite wrong.''
Crown counsel Robin Bates said the Hilux driver and
passengers received minor injuries as a result of the vehicle
Defence counsel Anne Stevens said Hurring had the ''mistaken
belief'' the victims were poachers and wanted to stop them.
''He doesn't accept he had his lights on full beam, but he
accepts he was trying to stop the car in front of him. He
accepts the way he went about it was wrong,'' she said.
Mrs Stevens said Hurring was a well-established Clutha
businessman and regularly contributed to the community.
The offending was out of character, she said.
Judge Phillips acknowledged Hurring was an ''extremely
hard-working man'', instrumental in fundraising for the
community and ''the largest employer in town''.
He said a character reference for Hurring was submitted by
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who said Hurring was a
Judge Phillips said he understood why Hurring felt
passionately about poachers and unauthorised people accessing
forest properties, but his actions had to be denounced.
Hurring was convicted and sentenced to 100 hours' community
work and disqualified from driving for eight months. He was
also ordered to pay reparation of $4506 and emotional harm
reparation of $3000 by 4pm tomorrow. After the sentencing,
Hurring told the ODT, ''I am just going to roll over
and take it''.
- Hurring is sole director of Balclutha companies Hurring
Billcliff Logging, Mike Hurring Logging and Louies Cabs,
established in 1993, 1997 and 2005 respectively.