Home detention for driver who injured passengers

An Oamaru man who was behind the wheel of a car that crashed and became airborne, seriously injuring his sister, has been sentenced in the Oamaru District Court.

Tain Joseph Cropley (22) had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of driving with excess blood-alcohol causing injury and one of driving in a dangerous manner.

Appearing before Judge Joanna Maze yesterday, he was sentenced to nine months' home detention and disqualified from driving for 15 months on all charges, and was also ordered to pay total reparation of $854.40 to the two victims of the crash.

Judge Maze said Cropley had failed in his responsibilities as a driver not only by drinking before he drove, but also not ensuring all passengers were wearing seatbelts.

On August 22, Cropley, an unsupervised learner driver, was driving on State Highway 83 after he and three others, all passengers in the vehicle, had spent the afternoon in Twizel, fishing.

They included an 18-year-old woman, Cropley's 20-year-old sister and a 25-year-old male associate.

About 7.45pm, Cropley failed to negotiate a moderate right-hand bend near Sailors Cutting and drifted on to gravel, which caused the vehicle to slide and veer sharply across both lanes of the highway before it struck a rock bank and slid, hitting a large rock.

The vehicle became airborne before it landed on its roof on a gravel verge.

Cropley and the woman in the front passenger seat were not injured and able to exit the vehicle.

The two back-seat passengers were cut out by firefighters. Both suffered serious injuries and were flown by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital.

Cropley's sister had multiple fractures to her face, three spinal fractures, five broken ribs and a fractured pelvis. She underwent two rounds of surgery and spent 10 nights in hospital.

The man had a broken right femur, left wrist, right collarbone and his pelvis was broken in four places. He also had a broken hip, six broken ribs and a moderate brain injury. He needed six operations to repair his wrist.

Cropley admitted to police he had consumed alcohol before the crash and was driving at high speed.

A blood sample taken about four hours after the crash returned a result of 86mg, and a subsequent drug analysis showed tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of cannabis, in his system.

Cropley's lawyer Michael de Buyzer said his client had ''learned a very harsh lesson'' and was ''deeply remorseful''.

He had attended restorative justice conference with the victims and had strong family support, Mr de Buyzer said.