Reparation ordered after father-to-be killed in crash

A “momentary lapse of judgement” by an Oamaru driver had tragic consequences for the family of a young father-to-be, the Oamaru District Court heard yesterday.

David Tetaupe Johnston (58), labourer, was appearing for sentence on a charge of careless driving causing the death of Samuel Alexander Charles Leith
(23) in Parsons Rd on October 21 last year.

Judge Peter Rollo said Johnston was driving a car in Parsons Rd and came to a stop at the intersection with Saleyards Rd. There was a car stopped opposite him, which had the right of way, and he let it proceed.

He pulled out into the path of Mr Leith, who was riding a motorcycle and whom he had not seen. Johnston administered first aid and remained at the scene until emergency services arrived.

Mr Leith died in Christchurch Hospital a month later from injuries. He left behind a partner who was 23 weeks pregnant.

Police accepted the topography of the road and a power pole and cycle trail signage had contributed to obscuring Mr Leith from view.

Johnston and Mr Leith’s family previously met in a restorative justice hearing in which Johnston expressed his “genuine remorse”.

“There was no overt driving fault except you didn’t see the motorbike approaching. You gave a heartfelt, genuine apology which was accepted,” Judge Rollo said.

Johnston was ordered to pay reparation of $3500 to Mr Leith’s father, who had owned the motorbike, and $2000 in emotional harm payment to the mother of Mr Leith’s unborn child.

He was not disqualified from driving. A disqualification would mean Johnston would lose his job, which would affect his ability to pay reparation, Judge Rollo said.


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