Vine sentenced after fatal collision

Last updated 13:00 29/01/2013

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Misjudging the speed a motorcyclist was travelling at led to the "most tragic consequences" for retired Nelson architect Christopher Vine.

Vine, 80, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court yesterday on a charge of careless driving causing the death of Terence John Frederick Grew, 56, last October.

He has paid the Grew family $12,000 and was fined $1000.

The crash happened at 5.30pm on October 27 at Appleby, near Richmond, at the intersection of State Highway 60 and the Moutere Highway, known as Pea Viner Corner.

Vine was coming out of the Moutere Highway and indicating to turn right to head toward Nelson. He collided with Mr Grew who was riding a 2005 Harley Davidson Sportster and heading towards Motueka. Mr Grew died at the scene.

Judge Richard Russell yesterday ordered Vine to pay a further $8000 to Mr Grew's family as an emotional harm payment, in addition to $12,000 he had already paid. Vine was also disqualified from driving for 15 months.

Lawyer Hamish Riddoch said Vine had not driven since the accident and he had no intention of driving again. He had given away his car.

Mr Riddoch said Vine was a model citizen who had entered a guilty plea at the first chance.

He was heavily involved in the community in architecture and as an artist.

He said Pea Viner Corner was a notorious corner and Vine had approached it cautiously. He had perhaps been too cautious and had driven through the corner too slowly, misjudging the distance between himself and Mr Grew.

He also misjudged the speed Mr Grew was travelling.

Mr Riddoch said if Vine had been one or two seconds quicker the accident might not have happened.

Vine had been through the restorative justice process with Mr Grew's family and was very remorseful.

Vine was the Nelson spokesman for Exit International, the voluntary euthanasia group set up by Australian doctor Philip Nitschke. He told the Nelson Mail last year he had stepped aside from that role following Mr Grew's death.

Judge Richard Russell said Vine's misjudgment had the most "tragic consequences possible".

Judge Russell said it was Vine's obligation to make sure the intersection was clear before turning onto the road.

Vine had been driving for 63 years without incident.

Judge Russell said in assessing payments made to the victim's family he needed to make it clear he could never put a price on human life.

"What I must do is put a consequence on the carelessness that has been shown here on the way you proceeded through the stop sign without making sure it was clear."

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Mr Grew had been with his partner, Anita Brockhouse, for 19 years. The couple lived on the Takaka Hill.

Mr Grew had one daughter and three grandchildren and had owned bikes all his life.

Speaking this morning, Ms Brockhouse said: "Terry is an incredibly loyal, faithful, honourable man. He leaves an immense hole in my life and those who were fortunate enough to have known him. His love and support will always have a lifelong impact on me."

She thanked Detective Ruth Collins for her help and support following the accident.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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