The need for constant vigilance by drivers was stressed by a
Dunedin judge yesterday when he sentenced a motorist involved
in a fatal accident earlier this year.
Waikouaiti grandmother Hollinger Anscott Russell (68) was
driving south on State Highway 1 on the Dunedin one-way
system about 10.30am on April 18 when she failed to notice
79-year-old David Duff crossing Cumberland St. Mr Duff was
struck by Russell's car and died of his injuries later the
Russell acknowledged she should have seen Mr Duff and did not
understand why she had not. She thought she may have been
concentrating on a pedestrian who was crossing from the other
side of the road, counsel Helgi Henderson said.
"That's why drivers must be vigilant at all times, scanning
the road ahead and peripherally,'' Judge Dominic Flatley told
Russell, who was before the Dunedin District Court on a
charge of careless driving causing death.
It was "a very sad situation, a tragic accident'' but
something that "could happen to any one of us'', the judge
In a victim impact statement, Mr Duff's family said they
understood what happened was an accident, with no intent on
Russell's part. They said they felt for her and her family
and how they must feel, and they knew that what happened was
something she would carry for the rest of her life.
Mr Henderson described Russell as a valued grandmother who
was caring for her grandchild. She had been very shocked by
the accident and had not driven since.
There had been some initial concerns about her eyesight, but
that had been assessed as meeting the standard, Mr Henderson
The defendant had forwarded an apology to Mr Duff's family
and offered a modest reparation payment for the harm caused,
although she acknowledged no amount of money would compensate
the family for their loss.
Judge Flatley told Russell that, while it had been an
accident, a charge had been laid and the process had to be
Community detention was the sentence recommended and he
agreed with Mr Henderson the penalty had probably been
arrived at by "a process of elimination''. Community work was
not appropriate and Russell's financial means were limited.
While Mr Henderson submitted community detention was not
appropriate and would have very little impact on Russell who
lived ``a fairly quiet life anyway'', the judge said the
offending had to be marked.
"A degree of punishment'' was needed to ensure other drivers
drove as carefully as possible, he said.
On the charge of causing the death of Mr Duff by driving
carelessly, Russell was sentenced to two months' community
detention with a 6pm to 6am curfew on Thursdays, Fridays and
She was ordered to pay $1000 emotional harm reparation by
agreed instalments and was disqualified from driving for nine