Fatal crash driver to pay $9000

Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014

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A Geraldine man who was driving when a crash killed his girlfriend and friend must pay $9000 reparation, to be held in trust for his friend's child.

Robert Hilton Scott, 23, was sentenced on two charges of careless driving causing death in the Timaru District Court yesterday.

Samantha Michelle Bradley and Jeremy Neill Johnson lost their lives on August 17 last year after a car driven by Scott veered off the Hakataramea Highway and down a bank. The crash was estimated to have happened about 11pm.

The trio and another friend had been at a birthday party in Timaru where they had been drinking. Johnson decided he wanted to visit his partner and child in Kurow. Initially he was driving but at some point in the journey, Scott took over, with Johnson and Bradley sitting in the back and the fourth person in the passenger seat.

Counsel Tony Shaw said Scott could not recall taking over the driving, only waking at daybreak in the car.

"They have drifted across to the right-hand side of the road, hit the gravel then steered back left and gone down the bank. The rear door (on Johnson's side) was ripped off when the car hit a tree. It then rolled and Mr Johnson was thrown out of the car, while Ms Bradley has remained in the car."

Neither of the rear passengers were wearing seatbelts. Once the car stopped, the front seat passenger got out of the vehicle and was picked up on the road and taken back to Timaru, without alerting anyone to the crash.

At daybreak, Scott awoke in the car.

"He had to climb over Ms Bradley to exit the vehicle and realised she was deceased, as was Mr Johnson outside the vehicle. He has staggered to the road and gone to a farmhouse and told them there has been a major accident, and he was taken to the police," Shaw said.

He was later taken to hospital and a blood-alcohol test revealed no alcohol left in his system.

Shaw said Scott had initially not taken responsibility for driving as he could not remember driving.

"He has killed his girlfriend and one of his best friends. He is struggling to cope, and haunted by the crash."

Scott was sentenced to 200 hours' community work, and to pay $9000 reparation, to be held in trust for Johnson's child.

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- The Timaru Herald

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