No defending careless driving causing injury

An Alexandra woman’s attempt to defend two charges of careless driving causing injury has failed.

Kim Michelle Murtagh (52), of Alexandra, appeared before Judge Kevin Phillips in the Alexandra District Court yesterday, on both charges after colliding with a vehicle in Cromwell on August 15, 2019.

She was attempting to turn on SH6, when her vehicle and an oncoming vehicle coming from Wanaka collided.

The driver and her passenger were injured in the crash and Murtagh’s vehicle tipped over.

During cross examination, Murtagh said she believed the oncoming vehicle was indicating, which would have given her right of way, but both the driver, Laura Spencer, and her partner and passenger, Martin Huertas, in the other vehicle denied that.

In evidence, both denied that Spencer had indicated at the intersection.

"I said ‘What is she doing’, I thought I tried to brake but it [the crash] was already happening."

In cross examination defence lawyer Justine Baird asked her if there was any chance that she happened to be indicating to turn like other cars that were using their indicators.

"They would have crashed as well if they did that."

Huertas described his partner as a "formidable" driver, could not recall seeing any other cars and denied that she was indicating.

Murtagh told the court her vehicle had a blind spot, caused by a pillar that ran along the edge of the windscreen to the door on the driver’s side.

"As I approached the intersection the road was clear. I glanced ... I still don’t know how I missed seeing this vehicle in the main road. I must have been behind [the] pillar."

Judge Phillips said he did not understand how the pillar had obscured her view of the vehicle she crashed into when it was in front of her.

She considered another vehicle on the road at the time was her main hazard, which she had focused her attention on.

"It is my error, but I don’t believe that it is careless."

Judge Phillips said her error resulted in "two people getting injured".

"The carelessness, in my view, is high-end carelessness."

He sentenced her to 100 hours’ community work and disqualified her for six months. She was also ordered to pay $450 reparation.

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