Road-rager jailed for slamming car into Christchurch's Avon River
A road-rager who sped after a car carrying five innocent people and rammed their vehicle into Christchurch's Avon River says his victims should not be scared of him.
None of the five victims were at the Christchurch District Court to see John David Malcolm Mclaren Savage jailed for three years, but his defence counsel Clayton Williams said Savage had written letters of apology.
There was no restorative justice meeting with the victims – occupants of another car he repeated rammed and then flipped into the river – but Savage wanted to assure them he did not intend to cause them more harm.
Williams said Savage was very remorseful after the March 25 incident.
"They appear to have ongoing fear of him. There is no basis at all for that," he said.
Savage had also written a letter to Judge Alistair Garland for the sentencing, the month after he pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving causing injury to five people, and assault using a bottle as a weapon.
He had been remanded in custody for sentence, and Judge Garland today jailed him for three years, disqualified from driving for three years, and ordered him to pay $13,090 reparations to the victims by instalments when he is released from prison.
Williams said Savage knew he needed help to prevent himself falling into a cycle of imprisonment.
His education had been limited because he had been asked to leave school at age 14 because of his violent behaviour.
He had three children, aged seven, three, and 11 months.
The court was told the five victims were in a car stopped at a red traffic light at the Bealey Avenue-Sherbourne St corner, when Savage pulled up beside them.
When they drove off, he rammed into the back of their car, and then rammed them a second time.
The other car sped up along Barbadoes Street to try to lose him, but Savage chased them, crashed into both sides of their car, and tried to ram their car into parked vehicles and power poles.
He caused the car to lose control and spin out.
When Savage stopped and got out of his car and walked towards the other car, they drove off.
He chased them again along New Brighton Road and hit them in the back rear corner, spinning the victims' car sideways.
Savage accelerated, causing the other car to flip and crash backwards into the Avon River.
Savage parked his car along the road while one of the victims undid the seatbelts of the victims in the river.
Four got free, and the rescuer returned to the car to free the fourth person.
Savage went to the riverbank, while two victims hid under the bank fearing that he had come to kill them.
Savage threw several items including a bottle that hit the victim who had rescued the others, causing a cut on the head.
One of the victims yelled at Savage: "What are you doing? What have we done?"
Savage yelled back, and the victim called out, "What's your name?"
Savage called back: "I'm John f---g Savage and don't you forget it."
He then drove off.
The victims received injuries including soreness, torn shoulder, bruises, cuts to the face, head, hands and arms.
One lost the top of her finger, and one had a chipped bone in the leg.
One was hospitalised from swallowing water – a serious matter because he had cystic fibrosis – and the $8000 car was written off and other items lost or damaged in the river.
Savage told police had been "on acid" and was not really sure about everything that had happened.
Judge Garland said Savage, 27, had 21 previous violence-related convictions. Home detention had been ruled out for him in 2009 because of his "hostile behaviour".
Savage was fortunate that no-one had been killed during the driving incident. Victims had been left with ongoing injuries, emotional concerns, and financial losses.
They had thought they were going to be killed.
- The Press