Driver behind hit-and-run death avoids prison again

Wendy Blackie speaks with Joshua Chellew, the man who struck and killed her daughter in a hit-and...
Wendy Blackie speaks with Joshua Chellew, the man who struck and killed her daughter in a hit-and- run-in 2018 outside the Oamaru District Court in 2019. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
The Oamaru man responsible for the hit-and-run death of a 14-year-old girl in 2018 has again been sentenced to home detention, this time for driving and violence charges.

Joshua John Chellew (33) appeared for sentence before Judge Joanna Maze in the Timaru District Court today on charges of assault with a weapon, endangering transport, aggravated injury, intentional damage and failing to stop.

The charges related to an incident in Oamaru in May 2020, when Chellew failed to stop for police, instead accelerating away and reaching speeds of up to 130kmh.

The court heard that Chellew and his passenger threw bottles, pieces of wood and other items at the following police car and attempted to ram it.

When the pursuit came to an end and police were removing him from the vehicle, Chellew punched a police officer, grabbed him around the throat, squeezed his neck and genitals and jumped on the police vehicle. It took two officers to arrest him.

In sentencing, Judge Maze gave credit for Chellew’s guilty plea, expression of remorse, and compliance with electronically monitored bail over the past 12 months.

She said Chellew’s compliance with the conditions of electronically monitored bail had shown him to be a viable candidate for home detention.

Chellew was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention, with post detention conditions, ordered to pay reparations of $3017.37, and disqualified him from driving for 18 months. His sentence is to be judicially monitored and include monthly drug tests.

Chellew was sentenced to four months' home detention over the hit-and-run death of 14-year-old Zara Blackie in October 2018.

On the night Zara died, Chellew had been at his Oamaru address socialising with friends.

Before he left with his girlfriend about 10.30pm, he consumed three cans of bourbon and cola, and a quarter of a cannabis joint.

The couple drove to Z Energy in Severn St and bought food and cigarettes, then continued to travel south on Severn St.

As the defendant was driving in the left lane of the section of State Highway 1 and crossed the short bridge that spans Oamaru Creek, the victim ran out on to the highway from behind the southwestern bridge abutment.

A police summary of facts said she tripped or stumbled into the path of the oncoming vehicle and the driver was unable to avoid hitting her.

The vehicle struck Zara's head and upper body, causing blunt force trauma injuries.

While the man slowed momentarily, he fled the scene at high speed in a southbound direction.

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