Driver jailed for fa­tal crash

The Timaru Herald - - NEWS -

A Christchurch truck driver re­spon­si­ble for a crash which killed a Fair­lie coun­cil worker check­ing on free­dom campers was jailed yes­ter­day.

Gre­gory James Hor­mann, 59, died when a truck driven by 46-year-old Michael Paul Hutchison, crossed the cen­tre line near Lake Tekapo, at 7.10am on De­cem­ber 14, 2017.

Hutchison was fa­tigued and had taken metham­phetamine and cannabis to stay awake at the time of the crash.

He ap­peared be­fore Judge Joanna Maze yes­ter­day and pleaded guilty to caus­ing death while driv­ing a ve­hi­cle with ev­i­dence of a con­trolled drug in his sys­tem, ex­ceed­ing 70 hours work time in a cu­mu­la­tive pe­riod, ex­ceed­ing 13 hours work time in a day, fail­ing to have 10 hours con­tin­u­ous rest, and mak­ing a false state­ment in a log­book.

Crown prose­cu­tor An­drew McRae said Hutchison had in­curred 25 driv­ing and drug-re­lated con­vic­tions in the last 28 years in­clud­ing care­less driv­ing caus­ing in­jury in 1990 and 1993; posses­sion of cannabis in 1992; driv­ing with ex­cess breath al­co­hol in 1994, 2002, and 2013; and dan­ger­ous driv­ing in 2004.

‘‘It is ex­tremely con­cern­ing that the de­fen­dant, with such an ex­ten­sive his­tory of driv­ing con­vic­tions, has re­tained his trans­port class li­cence and has been em­ployed in the trans­port in­dus­try,’’ McRae said.

Hutchison had blamed his em­ployer for breach­ing driv­ing reg­u­la­tions, which lead to him be­com­ing fa­tigued, be­cause he feared los­ing his job, McRae said.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment, Hor­mann’s daugh­ter Kelly, said it was ‘‘bru­tally un­fair’’ she had lost her ‘‘sup­port­ive, funny, un­con­di­tion­ally lov­ing’’ fa­ther.

Deal­ing with Hutchison’s court case meant she had not yet had the op­por­tu­nity to ‘‘just grieve’’, she said.

Chrissy van Has­sel, Hor­mann’s widow, said she and her hus­band were look­ing for­ward to an af­ter­noon with their daugh­ter vis­it­ing from Mel­bourne when he was killed.

‘‘That was the day, that lovely day it was meant to be, my heart was bro­ken,’’ van Has­sel said.

To Hutchison she said ‘‘be­cause of your wil­ful ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity, Greg lost his one pre­cious life.’’

Judge Maze sen­tenced Hutchison to 31 months jail, 10 years dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from hold­ing a pro­fes­sional driv­ing li­cence, and five years dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from hold­ing a per­sonal driv­ing li­cence.

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