Dutch crash driver to pay reparation
The Dutch driver who ran a stop sign and smashed into a car killing a Sumner mum and two girls will pay $25,000 to one family and an undisclosed sum to another as reparation.
Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, was in the Christchurch District Court today following the May 31 crash that killed Sally Rumble, 49, her daughter Ella Summerfield, 12, and Ella's friend, Abigail ''Abi'' Hone, 12.
Judge David Saunders ordered him to pay $25,000 in emotional harm reparation to Shane Summerfield.
Appelman had already paid an undisclosed sum to the Hone family, he said.
Judge Saunders disqualified him from driving for 15 months. "Should you return to New Zealand for business purposes, you will need to obtain a New Zealand driver's licence."
He would need to show the authorities he was a competent driver, the judge said.
Appelman, who crashed a different rental car the night before and was clocked speeding on the morning of the fatal crash, missed a stop sign on Somerton Rd and hit the Sumner group's Volvo, which was westbound on Thompsons Track.
Rumble and the girls died instantly.
Rumble's husband, Shane Summerfield, was driving the Volvo and was seriously injured. He spent two days in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital.
Appelman earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and one of dangerous driving causing injury.
He today also pleaded guilty to careless driving for his earlier crash. He drove a different rental car into a ditch on Johns Rd about 1am on May 31.
Judge Saunders said Appelman's failure to stop at the intersection had caused "tragedy of immense proportions".
"In my view, there is little to be gained by sending you to prison for two months or placing you on home detention in Christchurch," he said.
The judge noted that Appelman's business was in "some difficulty" by his inability to return home.
As well as the reparation, Appelman was ordered to pay $130 in court costs.
DRIVER 'VILIFIED' COURT TOLD
Defence lawyer Philip Shamy told the court Appelman would "never forgive himself for what he has done".
His client had been "vilified' for causing the accident, Shamy said.
Appelman came to New Zealand on business, not as a tourist, he said.
He had a lay-over in Australia, where he rested, before flying on to Christchurch and picking up a rental car that night.
The first crash, on Johns Rd, was from Appelman focussing on his GPS, Shamy said. "He lost control of the vehicle and damaged it. No harm was done to anyone else."
"It's unlikely . . . that the police would have become involved had it not been for the more serious charges that Mr Appelman now faces", Shamy said.
Appelman then went to a Christchurch hotel where he slept, before picking up a second rental vehicle. "He rested overnight", Shamy said.
In the morning, Appelman picked up a second vehicle and set off for business appointments in mid-Canterbury.
He had lunch in Ashburton, then set out for another business appointment.
A witness driving behind him told police there was no problem with Appelman's driving leading up to the fatal crash.
Appelman stopped at the relevant signs.
It was "momentary inattention" and "classic carelessness" that caused the fatal crash, Shamy said.
"He didn't see the stop sign. He did not do this on purpose. He did not see it. He has no memory of why this occurs.
"The next thing he remembers, sir, is waking up beside his car."
There was "tunnel vision" on country roads - "perhaps that is what has happened here".
Appelman had attended a restorative justice meeting with the Summerfields, and a private meeting with the Hone family.
The Summerfields had been left with the feeling that Appelman did not feel remorseful, Shamy said.
"All I can say to you is that he does."
Appelman had three children of his own, one of them a daughter who was close to Ella and Abi's age.
"It has damaged him significantly. This man has suffered and is suffering. He will never forget or forgive himself for what he has done.
"He has been vilified as the Dutch tourist who killed people. That has been a significant punishment."
Appelman had undergone counselling, Shamy said.
Outside court, Hone family spokesman Darren Wright read a statement from Lucy, Trevor, and their two sons.
They thanked friends, family, the Sumner community and wider Christchurch for the compassion and support.
"We couldn't have got through this without [it].
"It is our sincerest hope that in the months and years ahead, you will not be afraid to speak their names and join us in keeping the memories of our dear Abi, Sally and Ella alive,'' he said.
Both families wanted privacy to grieve.
Appelman left court hiding his face with one hand, holding his wife's hand with the other.
He said nothing.
- The Press