Japanese driver pays $30k bond to fly wife home

A Japanese doctor accused of causing a Boxing Day crash in the Lindis Pass which injured five people will be allowed to fly home with his injured wife before returning to Dunedin to face court.

The unusual move was approved by Judge Kevin Phillips in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, after Kansei Uno (54), of Tokyo, agreed to pay a $30,000 bond before leaving and admit his guilt upon his return.

Judge Phillips said he was prepared to take the ''big leap of faith'' because Uno was ''a man of letters'' - referring to his status as a doctor - and he expected him to ''front'' the court again on February 22.

If he failed to do so, the money held in the court registrar's trust account would be used to cover emotional harm payments to the victims and court costs, Judge Phillips said.

No summary of facts was presented yesterday, but the court heard Uno and his wife had flown for 13 hours from Japan to New Zealand, and then on to the South Island, before immediately renting a car and continuing their journey.

The car Uno was driving collided with another vehicle in the Lindis Pass about 5pm on Boxing Day, injuring David Miller, of Lumsden, two other members of the Miller family, Uno and his wife.

Uno, who appeared in court with a cut under his right eye and aided by a translator, yesterday faced one charge of careless driving causing injury to five people.

Counsel Cate Andersen said Uno wanted to plead guilty and be sentenced immediately, to allow him to escort his injured wife back to Japan tomorrow.

However, Judge Phillips said that was not possible, as medical reports and emotional harm statements were needed .

He also questioned the police decision to lay one charge covering all the injured parties, when five separate charges would have been more appropriate.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Chris George agreed and said the charges would be amended, as would the summary of facts.

Uno's ''culpability'' for the crash appeared ''extremely high'' but Judge Phillips was not prepared to ''whitewash'' the court process just ''because he's a tourist and wants to go home'', he said.

Miss Andersen said Uno had offered to return to New Zealand after seeing his wife home, to complete the court process, and would pay the $30,000 bond immediately.

Judge Phillips agreed to the proposal, but also required a letter confirming Uno accepted the police summary of facts and would plead guilty upon his return.

Uno was remanded at large to reappear before the court on February 22.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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