Driver convicted after crashing at excessive speed

A farmer living near Mt Aspiring Rd rang police to report the driver of a ''high speed'' car which soon afterwards crashed, the Queenstown District Court was told yesterday.

Following a trial before Judge Christina Cook, Michael David Clayton (23), engineer, of Albert Town, was yesterday found guilty of dangerous driving on Mt Aspiring Rd, west of Wanaka, on November 6.

Just before 8pm, Clayton was driving a V8 Commodore with one passenger, Bonnie Yan Lan.

Farmer John McRae said he was in his woolshed when he heard the vehicle coming, sounding ''like it was travelling at a very high speed''.

He went to his house to call the police and report the vehicle because he was ''worried for the safety of the people in the valley I knew coming home''.

Ms Yan Lan told Judge Cook she and Clayton had planned to head to Diamond Lake but darkness fell quickly and they decided to ''head back''.

As Clayton negotiated a corner, the tail of the car ''kicked out'', the car spun and hit a bank. Neither of the occupants was injured.

''It was a scary experience ... I guess out of a not-so-good situation I'm just glad no-one got hurt ... we were so close to the power pole.''

She had not looked at the speedometer and had ''no idea'' how fast Clayton was travelling at the time, but told the police after the incident he was ''probably going a little bit fast'' around the 65kmh corner. However, she told the court at no point before the incident had she felt fearful.

Constable Sharon Stephens examined the car at the scene and found the rear left tyre was ''marginal'' but the rear right was ''so worn away that the ... braiding of the tyres was coming through''.

Clayton said he had replaced two tyres due to ''two unlucky punctures'' and was aware the tyres were ''worn'' but did not realise they would not have passed a warrant of fitness.

He admitted to police at one point during the journey he had reached speeds of about 130kmh, but at the time of the crash estimated he was doing about 80kmh.

Judge Cook said based on the evidence she believed the crash was caused by a combination of excessive speed and the vehicle fault, which proved the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

''If there had just been the excessive speed itself, I'm unsure as to whether the level of dangerousness would have been satisfied. However, the combination of that level of speed and the state of the rear tyres ... leads me to the conclusion that the driving, in all circumstances, was dangerous.''

Clayton was fined $650, court costs $130, ordered to pay $50 witness expenses and disqualified for six months.

Disputed factsMatthew Messerschmidt (27), of Cromwell, was convicted and remanded on bail for sentencing on August 12 following a disputed facts hearing in Queenstown yesterday.

Messerschmidt had previously admitted being a male assaulting Kate Robinson at Cromwell on February 15 following an argument between the two.

Ms Robinson alleged her former partner had punched her ''six or seven times'', including punches to the stomach area while she was on a couch.

Messerschmidt contended he punched her twice in response to alleged kicks to his legs.

Judge Cook said she accepted Ms Robinson's evidence and found Messerschmidt punched her four times, twice in the living area of the property and twice in the kitchen.

Messerschmidt had three previous convictions for male assaults female, two of those domestic incidents; three previous common assault convictions and one conviction for resisting arrest.

Judge Cook ordered a presentence report to address home and community detention options before his sentencing in the Alexandra District Court.

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