Charges over baby death crash

BLAIR ENSOR AND ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2013

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Police have laid charges against a driver in connection with a crash that injured his pregnant partner, whose unborn baby later died.

The 40-year-old woman, who was a passenger, needed an emergency caesarean section in Wellington Hospital after two cars collided at the intersection of Adelaide Rd and John St, Newtown, last June.

Her 31-week-old foetus died later that night.

The Dominion Post understands the charged 40-year-old driver was in a relationship with the woman. However, police have not said whether he was the unborn baby's father.

Detective Inspector Paul Basham said police had laid three charges of careless driving against the man relating to the injuries to an occupant of the other car involved in the crash, as well as to his partner.

The driver is scheduled to appear in Wellington District Court tomorrow.

"The decision to lay these charges has not been taken lightly," Mr Basham said. "Police have undertaken a through investigation which has been subjected to an independent legal review.

"While this will be a difficult time for the family, police believe the matter should be put before the court for final determination."

The maximum penalty for careless driving is a fine of up to $3000.

Police have previously said a focus of their investigation would be whether one of the cars had gone through a red light.

Up to eight witnesses to the crash and interviews with hospital staff about the health of the foetus when the mother was brought into their care were also part of their investigation.

The crash involved a silver Mitsubishi Challenger travelling north in Adelaide Rd, driven by a woman in her 30s, and a red Nissan Tiida driven by the man, with his pregnant partner in the front passenger seat.

At 31 weeks' pregnant, the woman would have been about nine weeks off giving birth.

In November 2010, seven-months-pregnant Ann-Maree Hardiman, 42, and her unborn daughter died after a two-car crash at Opiki, near Palmerston North.

The young driver of the other vehicle, Isaiah Joel Kokiri, was sentenced to two years and one month in jail on charges of dangerous driving causing death and injury. No charges arose from the death of Ms Hardiman's unborn child.

Advice provided to then justice minister Simon Power in February 2011 said the death of an unborn child could be an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002.

It said a person could be charged with killing an unborn child but only in circumstances that would have amounted to murder had the child already been born.

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- The Dominion Post

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