Sentenced for fatal crash

February 14 would have been Susan and Terry Cullen's 30th wedding anniversary, to have been celebrated this year in New Zealand.

But at 2.30pm on February 13 Mrs Cullen (49) was killed and Mr Cullen (55) seriously injured when their vehicle was hit head-on by another vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jiaxuan Goh, near the Crown Range Rd turn-off on State Highway 6.

Goh, a Malaysian studying in Auckland, had previously admitted charges of careless driving causing Mrs Cullen's death, and careless driving injuring Mr Cullen and Goh's cousin Jia Nea. Yesterday, he unsuccessfully sought a discharge without conviction on all three charges from Judge John Brandts-Giesen.

Mr Cullen and his daughter, Emily, yesterday read harrowing victim impact statements to the court.

Mr Cullen said he still rang his wife's cellphone every day and their family's ``wonderful'' life had been turned into ``the saddest life ever''.

``My heart died on the 13th of February. I lost my beautiful wife, best friend, love of my life [and] my children have been robbed of a mother.''

He said his wife had been studying to become a lawyer.

He remembered almost every detail of the crash - trying to talk to his wife immediately after impact, being trapped in the vehicle for 45 minutes, struggling to breathe and ``wanting to die'', while others performed CPR on his wife on the side of the road.

Mr Cullen sustained serious injuries, for which he was still receiving treatment. He was still only able to carry out light work duties and was struggling financially.

Miss Cullen (26) described her mother as her ``best friend and biggest supporter''. The Sydney master's student was now working three jobs, suffering anxiety and depression, struggling to help support her family.

Judge Brandts-Giesen said Goh, an architecture student, was driving between 80kmh and 90kmh in the 100kmh zone when he crossed broken yellow lines as he approached a blind, left-hand bend, went into the opposite lane and collided with the Cullens' vehicle.

He was unable to remember what had happened, but defence counsel Louise Denton submitted it was either a moment of inattention, or momentary loss of consciousness.

Judge Brandts-Giesen told Goh the offence ``resulted in a death and serious injuries to both Mr Cullen and your cousin and has had horrendous indirect consequences ...

It was with ``some sadness'' he entered the convictions because Goh was ``a good young man''.

Goh was sentenced to 190 hours' community work and ordered to pay $24,000 emotional harm reparation to Mr Cullen - $10,000 of that to be paid immediately and the remainder by monthly instalments of $1000.

He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and one day, meaning he would have to sit a New Zealand driving test before he could regain his licence.

``The least thing I can do for public protection is to make you re-sit your licence again.''

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz


 

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