No disqualification for taxi driver after accident

A taxi driver who failed to apply the brakes to his parked vehicle, resulting in his passenger being run down at "minimal speed'', is allowed to continue to drive.

Steven James Chapman (64) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday for sentencing on one charge of careless driving causing injury.

The charge usually attracts automatic disqualification from driving for at least six months, but Judge Kevin Phillips accepted that special circumstances applied.

The passenger was in his 70s, and used a walker to get around.

In March this year, Chapman drove him home from the supermarket and parked the vehicle on Kaikorai Valley Rd, in a car park on a flat section of road.

After the man paid his fare Chapman opened the boot to get his walker out, but left the vehicle in drive and the footbrake off.

"As the defendant walked to the boot, he noticed it was rolling forward towards a parked vehicle.

"He yelled at the victim to put the car into reverse. The victim reached into the vehicle and put the gear stick into reverse,'' a police summary of facts said.

When the victim stepped out of the vehicle he was struck by the open passenger's door, and fell to the ground, the front left wheel of the vehicle running over the victim's right leg.

The victim sustained a serious gash to his leg. He was suffering ongoing physical and psychological consequences of the accident, and was taking anti-depressants.

Chapman was represented by defence counsel Andrew More, who said the level of carelessness that had taken place was "relatively low''.

Mr More noted the flat gradient and the "minimal speed'' at which the taxi was travelling.

Mr More presented a letter of support for Chapman, from the taxi company who employed him.

Judge Phillips said Mr Chapman had to take the victim as he found him.

He questioned why Chapman had not taken the few steps necessary to get back to the taxi and stop it himself.

However he accepted there were ``particular circumstances capable of constituting special reasons''.

"I think Mr Chapman would've been very surprised to see the car moving slowly towards him,'' Judge Phillips said.

Chapman was ordered to pay $1200 to the victim, but no order was made for disqualification.