Driver who caused fatality wins appeal

A Singaporean tourist sentenced to 21 months' prison for causing a fatal head-on collision by trying to overtake a truck on double yellow lines last month has successfully appealed his sentence and will instead spend nine months on home detention.

Kok Wei Ko (26), an engineer, was sentenced to prison by Judge Stephen O'Driscoll in the Dunedin District Court earlier this month.

Ko appealed the sentence and his appeal was this week allowed by High Court judge Justice Graham Panckhurst, who replaced it with a sentence of nine months' home detention and 200 hours' community work.

Justice Panckhurst confirmed the new sentence this week, although his reasoning was not available immediately.

Ko was travelling north on State Highway 1 with three friends when he tried to pass the truck near Kuriwao, east of Clinton, on November 13.

Ko's car crashed head-on into a southbound car, killing the passenger, Neville Squires (82), of Riverton, and badly injuring the driver.

The three passengers in Ko's car were seriously injured.

Mr Squires' daughter, Michelle Squires, sustained a leg fracture, a sprained wrist and a fractured rib which punctured a lung, and Ko's three passengers had injuries ranging from a lacerated pancreas, foot and spine fractures and a dislocated hip and leg injuries.

Ko was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on December 6 on one charge of dangerous driving causing death and four of dangerous driving causing injury, charges which carry maximum jail terms of 10 years and five years respectively.

Judge O'Driscoll sentenced Ko to 21 months' jail, with an order for $18,000 emotional harm reparation and a two and a-half year driving disqualification.

He said prison was appropriate because of the need for accountability and denunciation, the seriousness of the offending and the high level of culpability, and rejected consideration of a sentence of home detention.

The fact a person had been killed and four injured could not be ignored, he said.

Home detention would not be an adequate penalty, given the seriousness of the offending and the consequences, including a death.

The reparation and disqualification orders stand under the new sentence.