Driver in Lindis Pass crash that killed top lawyer named

The crash closed the Lindis Pass on State Highway 8 for much of the day. Photo: Ruby Shaw
The crash closed the Lindis Pass on State Highway 8 for much of the day. Photo: Ruby Shaw
The woman charged with causing a crash that killed a leading Marlborough lawyer has been named.

Brazilian national Evellyn Hitori Maeda Magahlaes, who has had interim name suppression since her first court appearance the day after the November 19 crash, appeared in the Queenstown District Court by audio visual link today.

The 28-year-old Auckland resident, admitted a charge of careless driving causing the death of Philip Watson on State Highway 8 near Lindis Pass.

Mr Watson, 64, was a leading member of Blenheim’s criminal bar and a motorcycle enthusiast.

The police summary of facts said the defendant left the town of Cheviot in North Canterbury on the day of the crash to pick up her brother from Queenstown Airport.

About 8.45am as she approached Lindis Pass, she looked at a mapping app on her phone, which was mounted on the dashboard.

As she did so, she veered into the opposite lane and collided head-on with Mr Watson, who was riding a Triumph motorcycle towards Omarama.

He died at the scene.

As three members of the victim's family watched by audio-visual link, Maeda Magahlaes’ counsel, Bryony Shackell, asked Judge Russell Walker to continue interim name suppression.

The defendant had mental health issues arising from childhood trauma that had been "wildly exacerbated" by the crash and its aftermath.

She would suffer extreme hardship from having her name published by the media.

Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said police opposed the application.

A letter from the defendant’s doctor contained no clinical assessment of the effects of her being named, and contained comments attributed to the defendant that appeared to "shift blame" for the crash to New Zealand road conditions.

Given the number of fatal crashes in Central Otago over the past few months, the public had a "genuine interest in knowing who’s appearing on such matters before the court", Sgt Collin said.

Judge Walker declined to continue name suppression on the basis the legal threshold had not been met.  

He made orders for restorative justice to be explored and the preparation of pre-sentence and reparation reports.

He scheduled Maeda Magahlaes’ sentencing for May 7.