Widow's plea for safer roads

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2014

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The widow of a motorcyclist killed by an elderly man driving on the wrong side of the highway has asked that he be taken off the road.

Archibald Edgar Macdonald, 81, pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Opunake builder Mark Edward Tatham, 50.The head-on crash occurred at Warea on State Highway 45 on May 13 last year.

Tatham's tearful wife Sarah read from her victim impact statement yesterday before sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court.

She told how her life and that of their children was now "shattered beyond belief"'. She'd been left in shock after losing the man she deeply loved. The couple had their children early and had so many plans for the rest of their lives, Sarah Tatham said.

However, there was no ill-feeling towards Macdonald, who now had to live with her husband's death. She felt it would be safer if he did not drive again but did not wish him to go to jail, asking he be treated with love and compassion.

Judge Allan Roberts said the starting point was 18 months in prison, reduced by three months for his age and acknowledging how long he had held a driver's licence.

He reduced this further by five months for Macdonald's guilty plea, leaving an end sentence of 9-10 months.

He said he did not consider either community work or home detention appropriate.

Macdonald was sentenced to five months community detention with a seven-day-a-week curfew from 7pm to 6am. He was disqualified from driving for two years.

The police summary says the crash occurred after Macdonald missed the entry to an engineering shop at Warea that he wanted to visit.

He did a U-turn to return to the shop, about 200 metres down the road, and crossed the double yellow lines on to the incorrect side of the road.

Macdonald's stationwagon and Tatham's north-bound motorcycle crashed head-on.

Tatham died from his injuries at the scene.

Macdonald told police he had not seen the oncoming motorcyclist until the "very last second".

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- Taranaki Daily News

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