Driver's departure put down to 'traumatic' background

A Dunedin driver who smashed into another vehicle then sped away left behind some very clear evidence of his involvement, a court has heard.

Matija Andres drove off without his bumper - complete with registration plate.

The two injured women in the other car were ''incredibly distressed'' for months, Judge Emma Smith told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

''They thought you had left them there injured and fled in a callous and gross fashion and they held that view of you for some time,'' she said.

But when the trio sat down for a restorative-justice conference, Andres was able to explain himself.

The 32-year-old's counsel, Val Farrow, said her client suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and fled the crash scene only because he had been confronted by a man and panicked.

She said his background was ''extraordinary''.

''The panic emanated from what can only be described as traumatic and distressing circumstances growing up and being present in a war-torn country,'' Judge Smith said.

He was relatively new to Dunedin, the court heard, and his mother had come over from overseas to support him.

Andres had been driving his Subaru in Princes St on the evening of July 27, looking for something for dinner.

When he could not find anything, he did a U-turn and slammed into the side of the victims' vehicle.

The driver was left bruised and her passenger was hospitalised with a neck injury.

Andres immediately paid $3000 to cover the damage he caused and had apologised to the women at their subsequent meeting.

Judge Smith said the pair were ''gracious'' in their acceptance of the defendant's remorse.

It was Andres' first brush with the law and Ms Farrow said the ordeal had resulted in sleepless nights for the defendant.

He was convicted of two counts of careless driving causing injury and added another for failing to answer bail.

Andres did not show up for sentencing on Tuesday and was given a ''police escort'' to court yesterday.

Judge Smith banned him from driving for eight months and ordered him to pay $325 reparation.

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