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Cody Dickey, 23, of Newark, California, appeared at the Hamilton District Court today for sentencing, having earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing the death of Robyn Eileen Derrick, and another charge of careless driving causing injury to her husband, Phillip, in an accident on May 30.
Dickey, a stationary engineer, and his wife were in New Zealand celebrating their second wedding anniversary and were due to fly home the following day.
The court heard how Dickey was confused by what he thought were two sets of headlights as he rounded a corner on Tairua-Whitianga Rd near Whenuakite in wet conditions.
The collision with the Derricks' 4WD vehicle saw Mrs Derrick, 52, die at the scene. Mr Derrick was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries but has since been discharged.
The court heard how Dickey met the Derrick family for a restorative justice session last weekend, two days after Mrs Derrick's funeral was held in Papakura.
His lawyer Mike McIvor said Dickey was "overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of spirit" shown by Mrs Derrick's family.
He said Dickey had raised $4000 for emotional harm, but without financial support or friends in New Zealand said his client could only afford to pay more if he was able to return to his job in the US.
The Crown sought a sentence that included a fine, community service and disqualification from driving, but said his level of offending was at the lower end.
Community magistrate Sue Hovell said Dickey had been driving cautiously on the night, and alcohol and speed were not factors in the accident.
She also said Dickey and his wife tried to render immediate assistance to the Derricks following the crash.
Ms Hovell said Dickey had immediately accepted responsibility for the crash, and cooperated with police and the court by surrendering his passport.
She said "this was not a case where he crossed the centre line due to overseas driving trends or inattention".
"I have little doubt, Mr Dickey, that you are totally horrified as well as your wife …at the finding that you have been found responsible for Mrs Derrick's death and Mr Derrick's injuries."
"This will remain with you forever."
Ms Hovell convicted Dickey and ordered him to pay reparation of $4500 for the charge of careless driving causing death plus court costs.
On the charge of careless driving causing injury he was ordered to pay $1000 in reparation.
He was disqualified from driving on both counts in New Zealand for 18 months.
- James Ihaka of the NZ Herald