Wairarapa mother sentenced over fatal crash

23:24, Sep 23 2009

A Wairarapa woman has escaped a jail term for the manslaughter of her four-year-old son in a car crash.

Wendy-May Connon, 40, was found guilty in July of the manslaughter of Konrad Truger.

Connon had been speeding with three children in the car, including Konrad, when her car left the road in Featherston, flipping and rolling several times, on January 16 last year.

Konrad was thrown about 30m from the vehicle. He suffered severe brain injuries and died three days later.

Konrad was just restrained by a lapbelt while one of the family's two dogs sat beside him in the seat with a diagonal belt that would have given Konrad more protection, Justice Joseph Williams said in the High Court at Wellington today.

He sentenced Connon to six months community detention under which she is curfewed to a Masterton address from 9pm-7am seven days a week.

Advertisement

She also has two years intensive supervision, and 200 hours community work.

Justice Williams said he wanted her to work in the field of road safety and child welfare if injuries she suffered in the crash allowed it.

He disqualified her from driving for two years.

The judge said Connon had sentenced herself to a lifetime of guilt, shame and pain. "I don't mean to be harsh in the circumstances but it is a sentence you well deserve."

He said Konrad would probably have survived the crash - as did the other two older children in the car - if he had been properly restrained.

Instead Konrad - and Connon who was not wearing a seat belt - was thrown as the vehicle slid off the road and rolled into a paddock.

The lack of a proper restraint and excess speed were the causes of his death, the judge said.

He put to one side evidence that Connon had smoked cannabis before setting out to drive from Featherston to Lake Ferry on January 16 2008.

Justice Williams said there was no evidence of the effect cannabis would have had on her driving.

- The Dominion Post and NZPA