Drink-driver yet to pay a cent

Mutsuko Morisue, of Queenstown, has been left out of pocket after she was the victim of a drink...
Mutsuko Morisue, of Queenstown, has been left out of pocket after she was the victim of a drink-drive hit-and-run crash a year ago. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
One year after she was nearly killed by a hit-and-run drink-driver, a Queenstown woman has yet to receive any of the $7500 reparation the driver owes her.

Japanese waitress Mutsuko Morisue was flung 10m when she was hit by a car on the footpath outside the Copthorne Hotel, in Stanley St, on March 3 last year.

The driver, British builder Nicholas Catlin - who ran from the scene but was later found to be nearly three times the legal limit - is serving a prison sentence of two years and four months.

But he has not paid a cent of the reparation ordered by the court, $2500 of which should have been paid within 28 days.

Ms Morisue, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent two months recovering in hospital, said no-one had told her why and she had been forced to look for answers herself.

Although she was back working part-time, she continued to struggle with her memory and concentration, and suffered from back pain 24 hours a day.

The reparation issue was causing her stress, because of her guilt at the financial burden her accident had placed on her family.

She had estimated that burden at $10,000 - her own lost wages and the airfares and accommodation and living expenses her mother had incurred when she travelled from Japan to care for her.

She could not understand why "so little is being done to actually serve justice".

"It's not just about money, it's the principle."

She had been surprised to be told by the Ministry of Justice it could not pursue Catlin for the money while he was in prison, but would assess his ability to pay once he was released.

"Surely it cannot be so difficult to get in touch with him and demand payment. He's in a secure facility, after all."

Catlin (34) would be deported to the United Kingdom after his release, and she was worried the reparation issue would not be properly followed up.

"Then he will leave the country and nothing else can be done."

The Otago Daily Times has been unable to determine if Catlin even has the $2500 he told the court was immediately available to pay Ms Morisue.

The sentencing judge, Bernadette Farnan, did not order a reparation report to assess his ability to pay.

The lack of action by the court and ministry over the past year has prompted the police to revisit the case.

Southern district prosecution manager Senior Sergeant Peter Kirsopp told the ODT the prosecution service was considering making an application to bring Catlin back before the court for resentencing "to assist in the recovery of the reparation".

It was a priority for the service "to ensure all victims are represented fairly in any sentencing", Snr Sgt Kirsopp said.

Ministry of Justice group manager national service delivery Bryre Patchell said the case was still with the district court's collections unit, which could attempt to enforce payment "through the options it has available within the legislation", even if the offender was in prison.

 

Comments

In today's world I have to agree with Ms Morisue. Catlin will be deported, and nothing more will be done. Sad. A travesty.