Rental car firms not to blame
Tourist drivers need to make it their responsibility to know whether they have the skill to drive in New Zealand, a Queenstown judge says.
Judge Christina Cook said she did not believe rental-car companies were at fault when hiring cars to tourists involved in crashes.
The comments were raised at the Queenstown District Court sentencing of Chinese woman Qian Li, 35, on three charges of careless driving causing injury, after a serious crash at Gibbston Valley on February 21.
Li lost control of a rental car and spun into an oncoming vehicle carrying Paul and Rosa Whitmell, who were visiting from the United Kingdom.
Paul Whitmell suffered broken ribs, a broken elbow, punctured lung and cuts and bruising, while Rosa Whitmell suffered fractures to her ribs, wrist, sternum and eye socket as well as internal abdomen injuries.
Lawyer Bryce Whiting said there were ‘‘serious questions’’ about whether it was responsible of rental car companies to let tourists drive in Central Otago.
‘‘I really don’t think they have the experience or skill to drive in Central Otago,’’ he said.
The judge said Li should have been confident to drive in New Zealand before hiring a rental car and been aware of the challenges of driving on New Zealand roads.
The crash had been caused by an error of judgment with substantial consequences, she said.
Li was ordered to pay a $5000 reparation and emotional-harm payment to the couple.
She was also fined $500 for injuring her friend in the crash.
A former shop assistant at Fergbaker, a sister business to Queenstown’s legendary Fergburger, has admitted stealing from it.
Neeta Dandgey, 25, admitted stealing cash from the business but a disputed facts hearing would be held on March 18 to allow for further investigation into the amount stolen and when it had been taken.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Ian Collin said it was believed Dandgey had stole between $500 and $3500 between October 21 and March 2.
Dandgey was in New Zealand on a work visa and had been hoping to leave the country by the end of April.
She was remanded on bail with conditions that included not to go to any of the Ferg businesses.
James Charles Andrews, 44, roofer, was fined $1100 for assault, disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest on January 24.
Andrews hit a man on the back of the head with a jandal while he was walking through central Queenstown and violently struggled with police when they went to arrest him.
Jacob James Forde, 19, was remanded until June 18 for sentencing for assault and disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence on February 22.
Sean Tyler Brennan, 25, labourer, was remanded in custody until April 13 for sentencing at the Thames District Court for obstructing police, driving with sustained loss of traction and entering the Queenstown dog pound with the intent to commit theft between January 21 and March 4.
Jacob Stewart Banks, 19, of Lake Hawea, was fined $450 for possession of cannabis on February 15. Banks was found with 24 grams of cannabis when a search of his car was conducted after police smelled cannabis.
Jamie Cal Dyce, 29, bar manager, was remanded for sentencing for procuring cannabis between July 17 and August 16.
Unlawful use of document
Matthew James Horne, 19, of Arrowtown, was fined $600 and ordered to pay reparation of $577 for falsely claiming his iPhone was stolen and lodging an insurance claim on June 16.
Horne had sold the phone for $400.
Quinn Ryan Drake, 20, labourer, was fined $400 and ordered to pay $100 reparation for intentionally damaging a loading bay sign on February 15.
Baptiste Raymond Dubuis, 28, was fined $700 and disqualified from driving for six months for dangerous driving near Alexandra on February 24.
Other drivers were forced to take evasive action after Dubuis drove on the incorrect side of the road in an area with double yellow lines.
Natasha Marie Tomlinson, 24, student, was fined $1400 and disqualified from driving for six months for recording a blood alcohol level of 142mg, limit 50, and resisting arrest on January 17.
Tomlinson had been a passenger in a car which crashed into parked cars near Arrowtown in the early hours of the morning. She then tried to drive away from the scene of the crash.
When police arrived she denied driving and tried to run away from police before kicking an officer attempting to arrest her.
Kris Neil Stower, 32, labourer, was fined $950 and disqualified from driving for seven months for a breath-alcohol level of 828mcg, limit 250, on February 28.
Craig Richard Baily, 45, of Wanaka, fined $1100 and disqualified from diving for nine months for recording 724mcg on February 25.