Home detention for texting driver over Arrowtown crash death

Tully Robinson (left) leaving after an earlier court appearance in Queenstown. Photo: George Heard
Tully Robinson (left) leaving after an earlier court appearance in Queenstown. Photo: George Heard
The woman responsible for a head-on collision that killed Arrowtown teenager Allanah Walker last year has been sentenced to home detention, banned from driving for 18 months, and ordered to pay $35,000 in reparation.

Tully Isabel Robinson (22), the elder sister of alpine ski racer and Olympian Alice Robinson, was sentenced by Judge John Brandts-Giesen in the Queenstown District Court this afternoon.

She was convicted in June after admitting charges of aggravated careless driving causing Allanah's death and aggravated careless driving causing injury to Astin Anthony Caldwell, on Malaghans Rd near Arrowtown on August 22 last year.

Robinson was found to be speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road and texting while driving.

A blood-alcohol test showed she was slightly above the legal limit of 50mg.

Allanah’s mother, Sarah Walker, held a framed photo of her daughter as she read her victim impact statement to the court.

She described the devastating impact the death of her "beautiful and precious" daughter continued to have on on her and Allanah’s brother and grandparents.

She told Robinson the crash was the result of "three conscious decisions" she had made on the night.

"Every day for the rest of your life, when you look in the mirror, you’ll see someone who made a series of bad decisions that resulted in the taking of a life."

In a statement read by Crown prosecutor Mike Brownlie, Mr Caldwell said he wished he was the one who had died in the crash.

He had been abusing drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

"My mental well-being scares me."

After the crash he was flown to Dunedin Hospital with serious injuries, including a spinal fracture, which required several months of hospital treatment.

Judge Brandts-Giesen turned down an application by defence counsel Kerry Cook for a discharge without conviction.

From a starting point of 17 months’ prison, he made discounts for Robinson’s early guilty plea, previous good character, relative youth, her remorse, and willingness to engage in restorative justice and pay reparation.

However, he said prison was not appropriate, and sentenced her to home detention for four months and two weeks, with special conditions.

Judge Brandts-Giesen told Robinson she would have to carry the burden of her actions for the rest of her life.

Before the crash she had been a "well-functioning and respected young person".

He believed she would be able to overcome mental health challenges arising from the crash and its aftermath with the right support.

"I’m sure you will overcome these events and succeed in life.

"You really have one duty, and that is to make the best of your life, to look straight in the eye of what you have done wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again."

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