Lawyer plans to fight conviction

A Dunedin-based lawyer who was convicted over his poor driving for the second time in two years says he will appeal the court's decision.

While disappointed with yesterday's outcome following a hearing at the Dunedin District Court, 65-year-old Simon Claver was philosophical about his plight.

''Shit happens,'' he said.

On June 24, he turned right out of Police St into Crawford St in his silver Jaguar and almost immediately collided with Kirsten Macdonald's red Mini.

''I looked to my left and the only vehicle I saw was the one 100 to 150m away,'' Claver said.

''The Mini suddenly appeared in front of me. There it was, bang.''

The impact was similarly unexpected for the victim, who had just left Briscoes.

''He came from nowhere,'' Ms Macdonald said.

She told the court how her window smashed and the airbags deployed as she slammed on the brakes.

Claver immediately apologised.

''Are you OK? I'm so sorry, it was all my fault,'' the witnessed recalled him saying.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable John Somerfield said the victim's car was there for the defendant to see.

Because he failed to notice the oncoming vehicle, the charge of careless driving was proven, he said.

''These are not the actions of a normal, prudent driver in Dunedin,'' he said.

Defence counsel Allan Tobeck pointed justice of the peace Robert Montgomery to a High Court judgement, claiming there was no case for his client to answer.

He said that ruling showed the court must find evidence of carelessness beyond the simple fact that the defendant should have seen another vehicle.

After brief consideration, Mr Montgomery found the charge proven and convicted Claver of the offence.

''Because you were on a give way, the onus is on you as a careful driver to make sure the way is clear before you proceeded,'' he said.

He noted the defendant was also at fault for pulling into the far lane of a two-lane road.

Despite Mr Tobeck's submissions that his client had been declared bankrupt this month, the JP ordered him to pay $413 to the victim.

Claver was also banned from driving for 28 days.

The court heard the experienced lawyer was at fault over another driving incident in 2016 when he ploughed into three pedestrians after running a red light.

He was convicted in the Invercargill District Court last year of three counts of careless driving causing injury.

Police noted Claver had racked up a flurry of demerit points for speeding in the past couple of years too.

''I have had a heavy foot in the past, I admit to that,'' the defendant told the Otago Daily Times outside court.

But he put the two accidents down to misfortune.

''I think I'm just unlucky. Everybody has accidents; I've just had mine in two years,'' he said.

Claver was hoping for a better year after his last was plagued by financial woes.

''I might be a reasonable lawyer but I'm a really useless business person. I have no money sense whatsoever and kept on getting deeper and deeper into the rubbish,'' he explained.

Claver was confident his conviction for careless driving would be overturned by the High Court.


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