Help for family of dead man

FATAL: Emergency services work at the scene of the four-car crash on State Highway 6 which killed South African man Leslie Brown.
FATAL: Emergency services work at the scene of the four-car crash on State Highway 6 which killed South African man Leslie Brown.

The ashes of a South African man killed in a four-car crash near Havelock in June may finally be returned to his family after money was put forward by the man who caused the accident.

Leslie Brown was driving to visit his brother before catching a flight home to South Africa to see his wife and three sons, when he was hit head-on by a car, driven by Ian Craig Kimber, which was on the wrong side of the road.

The details of the crash were explained by Judge Denys Barry when he sentenced Kimber in Blenheim District Court yesterday. Kimber, 57, of Christchurch was ordered to pay $12,000 emotional harm reparation to Mr Brown's widow and disqualified from driving for three years after earlier admitting a charge of careless driving causing death.

Reading from victim impact statements provided by Mr Brown's family, Judge Barry said Mr Brown moved to New Zealand eight months before the accident looking to restart his career after the economic downturn hit his job in South Africa.

After the crash, his ashes had been sent to his brother, who lives in Napier, but his wife and children had not been able to afford to visit the crash site or take his ashes home, he said.

Despite the incident, the family were not angry with Kimber, who had written them a heartfelt and thoughtful letter of apology, he said.

Kimber's lawyer Rob Harrison said Kimber had not wanted to put a dollar value to a man's life, but had offered the $12,000 from his life savings hoping it would allow the family to take Mr Brown's ashes home and gather to remember him.

Judge Barry said the accident happened just before 4pm when Kimber's car crossed the centre line towards three oncoming cars. The first driver pulled as far off the road as he could to avoid Kimber's car, but it still clipped his rear wheel arch and drove head onto into Mr Brown's car, he said.

Kimber, who had worked for many years as a commercial driver, was not speeding, had not been drinking and said he had had a good night's sleep the night before, he said. The road was straight and in good condition and the weather was dry, he said.

Mr Harrison said Kimber was "gutted" by the accident, even more so after reading the victim impact statements from Brown's family. "He said to me, this is a man sounds very much like me, and I think if we had known each other, we would have got on well together."

Kimber was haunted by not knowing what caused him to drive on the wrong side of the road, but had admitted responsibility as soon as he could, Mr Harrison said.

Kimber, who was also injured in the crash, stood on crutches in the dock, with his head bowed. He was due in hospital for bone grafts and it would be many months before he was well enough to work again.

The Marlborough Express