Johannes Jacobus Appelman crashed while fiddling with a GPS
the day before causing the deaths of (from left) Abi Hone
and Ella and Sally Summerfield. Photo / Martin Hunter
The Dutch businessman who ran a stop sign and killed
three people would "hurt for the rest of his life", a close
friend said last night.
But he has not spoken publicly because he can't put into
words how he feels.
Father-of-three Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, avoided jail
yesterday after admitting he caused the deaths of Sally
Vanessa Summerfield, 49, her daughter Ella Yasmin
Summerfield, 12, and Ella's friend Abi Hone, 12, on Queen's
Since the horror smash, Appelman has been sheltered on a
rural Canterbury property by friend and fellow Dutchman,
Last night, Mr Buter told APNZ Appelman, known as Jan, was
"absolutely sorry for what he has done".
"He's got kids the same age. We've got kids the same age.
"It will hurt for the rest of his life."
Appelman is a general manager of an international firm that
sells agricultural dry storage facilities, and often travels
to New Zealand.
On May 30 he arrived in Christchurch and rented a car, but
just a few kilometres from the airport, he was fiddling with
his GPS when he crashed it.
The next day, he hired a Subaru from another firm. He says he
did not see a stop sign at the Thompsons Track and Somerton
Rd intersection near Rakaia.
At 3.55pm, he sped through the stop sign at about 100kmh.
Appelman ploughed into the Summerfields' Volvo on the
passenger side, killing Mrs Summerfield, and the two
youngsters on impact.
Mr Summerfield suffered broken ribs, a ruptured diaphragm,
lacerated spleen and kidney, a left side hemothorax and torn
The 48-year old dentist, supported by his devastated son Sam,
read an emotional victim impact statement in court yesterday.
He spoke of the "unbearable" pain, and that he hoped
Appelman's guilt would "remain with him forever".
"Written words will never express the devastation [Appelman]
has caused so many people," he told the court.
"He must take responsibility for his actions.
"For us to remain here in Christchurch, we will never have a
reprieve from the loss of the three girls. It will live on
like a recurring nightmare."
Judge Saunders sentenced Appelman on three counts of careless
use of a vehicle causing death, one charge of careless use of
a vehicle causing injury, and one of careless use of a motor
He banned him from driving for 15 months and ordered him to
pay Mr Summerfield $25,000 of emotional harm reparation.
The court heard that Appelman had already paid an undisclosed
sum to the Hone family.
The Summerfields had met Appelman in a restorative justice
conference and came away feeling he was not remorseful.
His lawyer, Phil Shamy assured the court he was.
"There is nothing that Mr Appelman can say, nothing he can
do, there is nothing he can offer that will ever make up for
the harm he has done," Mr Shamy said.
His friend, Mr Buter said that Mr Shamy had advised Appelman
not to speak to the media, but the lawyer had "expressed
Jan's feelings well".
"It wasn't lip service," Mr Buter said.
"He's not a man that easily talks about his emotions, or is
able to express in words what he feels."
Appelman's wife Sylvia reiterated that her husband -- who has
undergone counselling -- doesn't want to speak about what
"He doesn't see the need of it," she told APNZ.
If Appelman ever returns to New Zealand he will have to
obtain a New Zealand drivers licence and satisfy authorities
that he's a safe driver.
A charge of careless driving causing death carries a maximum
penalty of three months' imprisonment.
Dr Chris Gallavin, dean of law at University of Canterbury,
said it was extremely rare for jail terms to be handed down
in careless driving cases.
"More often these cases are treated as a tragedy for everyone
involved," he said.
"Everyone acknowledges the level of mental fault is actually
very minor. It's things we get away with on a daily basis
around the country."
In a personal comment from the bench, Judge Saunders asked
the media not to pursue Appelman "for a scoop interview",
saying it was "always an unseemly sight" to see people being
pursued down the street.
Outside court, spokesman for the Hone family, Darren Wright
read a statement from parents Lucy, Trevor, and their two
sons Ed and Paddy.
The Hone family thanked friends, family, and the wider
community for their compassion and support.
"We couldn't have got through this without it. It is our
sincerest hope that in the months and years ahead, you will
not be afraid to speak their names and join us in keeping the
memories of our dear Abi, Sally and Ella alive."
A spokeswoman for the Summerfield and Rumble families said
they thanked friends, family, emergency services,
Christchurch Hospital, and "people unknown to us in the
Sumner community for their love and support during this
"We will forever mourn the loss of our two most beautiful
Both families have now asked for privacy to grieve.
- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ