Truck driver avoids jail sentence after woman he hit asks for leniency

The Invercargill District Court building in Don St, Invercargill.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ

The Invercargill District Court building in Don St, Invercargill.

A woman has asked a judge not to sentence the drink-driver who crashed into her to jail.

Slade Ronald McIntosh appeared before Judge Tony Couch in the Invercargill District Court on Friday.

McIntosh had earlier admitted driving with a breath alcohol level of 803mcg, careless driving causing injury, and failing to stop to ascertain injury on February 18.

McIntosh's lawyer Katy Barker said McIntosh had been working as a truck driver for several months, and was working 70 hours a week on night shift.

He had become more and more tired and spent a lot of time on his own and believed he had been becoming depressed, she said.

There had also been a fire in his home a week before the crash, which had played on his mind, and his step-mother had been very ill.

Barker said alcohol had been something McIntosh turned to when "things got hard".

The night of his crash, McIntosh was to pick up newspapers from Dunedin to deliver to Invercargill but it had been a bad night at work, and things were running behind schedule, Barker said.

He had been given beer by a friend, which he intended to drink when he got home, but instead decided to drink and drive, Barker told the court.

When the crash happened in the early hours of the morning, McIntosh felt the truck shake, and heard a sound which he initially thought was a pallet falling over in the back of the truck.

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It wasn't until he looked in his rear view mirror that McIntosh realised he'd hit a car, Barker said.

McIntosh went into shock and was shaking. He saw other people were with the victim, which was why he did not go back to the scene.

"He is immensely remorseful," Barker said.

Since the crash, McIntosh had engaged in alcohol counselling and had gone to his doctor to seek help for depression, she said.

Judge Couch said members of the public had seen McIntosh driving badly before the crash, including weaving through traffic and causing others to take evasive action.

McIntosh drove through a give way intersection at speed and struck the victim's car, the judge said.

The reason the law required drivers to stop if involved in a crash was so that help could be offered or called upon immediately, he said.

"That can make the difference in life and death."

He noted that when McIntosh met with the victim for a restorative justice conference, it had been meaningful for both parties.

"I accept you made a heartfelt and sincere apology."

The judge also accepted McIntosh had taken initiative to get help.

Judge Couch said the victim was a "remarkable woman", and it was her wish that McIntosh "be helped to change your ways rather than be in prison".

"She was genuine in her concern for you ... her wish was that you become a better person."

The judge sentenced McIntosh to seven months' home detention, disqualified him from driving, and ordered him to pay the victim $1500 emotional harm reparation.

 - Stuff

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