Man's fatal drive questioned
Tension over the death of a Hastings man fatally struck by a car flared during an inquest at the Hamilton District Court today.
Coroner Garry Evans is leading an inquiry into the death of Hastings man William Gregory Hoskins, who was fatally struck by a car on Marychurch Rd, Matangi, near Hamilton, in the early hours of January 15 last year, after attending his cousin's wedding nearby.
David Mascelle - the husband of Hamilton-based community magistrate Ngaire Mascelle - was initially charged with careless driving causing death, but that charge was withdrawn by police.
Mascelle, who began giving evidence today, said he was working as a joiner at the time and had to take a load of windows to Wellington.
The at-times tense hearing flared early in his testimony after he said he was a "careful driver" to which a Hoskins family member sniggered.
Mascelle took exception, immediately turning around and complaining to Evans.
The coroner then warned the family to keep their thoughts to themselves.
Philip Crayton, acting for the Crown, asked Mascelle why he didn't use his full-beam headlights driving along Marychurch Rd.
Mascelle replied that he encountered fog while driving out of his driveway and to drive on full beam was "dangerous" in those conditions.
Crayton put it to him that there were often stock or animals on rural roads and full beam would help highlight dangers, but Mascelle didn't accept that.
"I have never seen an animal or stock on the road," he said.
"It depends on the farmer's fencing. I have been driving 30 years and never seen an animal or stock on the road."
Another driver, Campbell Primmer, has already told the inquest that he saw Mascelle's vehicle drive over something on the road, but did not realise it was a body until he stopped to check.
Today Crayton asked Mascelle why he never went back to check on what he had hit or to help Primmer who, at that stage, had just pulled up and could have been injured or vehicle damaged.
"He didn't come to my aid either," Mascelle replied.
"For all you know, Primmer may have had an accident ... and you still don't go back to investigate, why?" Crayton asked.
"At that time I made a judgement on the information I had before me [that he had hit a box or crate] and right now it's the wrong judgement, but that's the judgement I made," he replied
After questioning from Crayton, Mascelle said he took his eyes off the road for between one and 1.5 seconds, to turn on the air conditioning in his vehicle.
Evans on Wednesday quizzed Mrs Mascelle on her definition of what constituted an accident after she said that what happened on the morning of January 15, 2012, was not an accident.
She said she did not consider it an accident because an accident occurred when "you damage another motor vehicle or injure a person or animal".
She did not believe damage only to one's own vehicle could be defined as an accident.
At the time of the accident, the couple had initially thought they had hit some type of object or "box or crate", but later the same day she received a text from her daughter that there had been a death on Marychurch Rd about 5am.
The hearing continues.