Driver using phone at time of fatal Arrowtown crash

Tully Robinson (left), 22, leaves the Queenstown District Court supported by family members. Photo: George Heard
Tully Robinson (left), 22, leaves the Queenstown District Court supported by family members. Photo: George Heard

The  woman responsible for a head-on collision that killed Arrowtown teenager Allanah Walker last year was texting while driving and under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

Tully Isabel Robinson (22), the elder sister of alpine ski racer and Olympian Alice Robinson, was convicted today on charges of aggravated careless driving causing Allanah’s death and aggravated careless driving causing injury to Astin Anthony Caldwell near Arrowtown on August 22.

Appearing before Judge Russell Walker in the Queenstown District Court, she was remanded on bail for sentencing on August 30.

Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Robinson was driving at 112kmh on Malaghans Rd towards Queenstown at 9.14pm when she crossed the centre line on to the wrong side of the road.

Caldwell saw the defendant’s vehicle and attempted to take evasive action by steering right into the other lane.

The cars collided in the centre of the road, killing Allanah (17) instantly and leaving Caldwell trapped.

There was no evidence of braking by either vehicle.

Allanah Walker. PHOTO: WALKER FAMILY
Allanah Walker. PHOTO: WALKER FAMILY

The defendant was taken to Lakes District Hospital, where a blood-alcohol test gave a result of 56mg, above the legal driving limit of 50mg.

Analysis of her phone showed she sent a series of messages on Facebook between 9.12pm and 9.13pm, with an unsent, typed message open at the time of impact.

Robinson told police she was travelling about 85kmh when she noticed headlights in her lane and swerved right to avoid a collision.

Her lawyer, Jonathan Eaton QC, told Judge Walker she was studying for an honours degree in commerce at Sydney University, and would return to Sydney tomorrow.

Covid-19 border restrictions had prevented her from appearing in court any earlier.

Robinson’s parents, and members of the two victims’ families, watched from the public gallery.

She also pleaded guilty to careless driving causing injury to Astin Anthony Caldwell for the same reasons.

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