Man sentenced over fatal Hubbard crash
A man who caused the death of Timaru financier Allan Hubbard and injured Hubbard's wife, Jean, in a car crash has been disqualified from driving for a year and fined.
Former Richmond man Andrew John Earl, 42, was convicted on charges of causing death and injury by careless driving in a reserved decision given by Judge Gary MacAskill in Christchurch in August after an Oamaru District Court sitting in early June.
The judge concluded the Mosgiel man was either drowsy or asleep at the wheel.
Earl was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined $2500 at Christchurch District Court this afternoon. Jean Hubbard has previously issued a statement saying she "bears no ill-will towards Mr Earl or his family" and asking for privacy.
When asked outside the court how Earl felt about the sentencing he replied: "Not really too sure to be honest."
Earl declined to comment further but said: "I've always had a lot of sympathy for the Hubbards".
The death and injury occurred at Hilderthorpe on September 2, 2011, in a head-on collision between the white Honda Jazz that Jean Hubbard was driving and a red Holden Rodeo utility and trailer that Earl was driving.
Earl denied both charges.
In his reserved decision, Judge MacAskill said the site of the crash, on State Highway 1, about 8 kilometres north of Oamaru, was straight and level.
The Hubbards were driving south, and Judge MacAskill said the impact occurred in the southbound lane.
The police had concluded that Earl's vehicle had veered to the right and into the path of the Honda.
The defence said that although the Honda was in the southbound lane at the moment of impact, it had almost wholly crossed the centre line into the northbound moments before the crash. Earl had tried to avoid a head-on collision by crossing into the other lane.
Jean Hubbard had no memory of the crash or events before it.
She denied a defence allegation that she was distracted by eating an icecream. She and her husband had earlier stopped to eat icecreams.
The defence had referred to earlier driving incidents involving Jean Hubbard, but Judge MacAskill said yesterday: "Mrs Hubbard impressed me as a woman of intelligence and of sharp wits, unblunted by her years."
Another driver gave evidence of erratic driving by Earl before the crash.
He saw him drive wide on a bend and cross the centre line, and described keeping an eye on Earl in his rear-vision mirror.
Immediately before the crash, he saw Earl's vehicle veer across the road into the path of the Honda, which braked before the crash.
Judge MacAskill said he saw the driver as a reliable witness.
Earl told police he had no recollection of the events immediately before the crash, but recalled the motion of the vehicle straight after the impact.
A doctor's evidence was that an explanation, other than a head injury, for Earl having pre-incident amnesia would be falling asleep before the crash.
Judge MacAskill said: "I conclude that the defendant's utility vehicle veered across the roadway into the southbound lane and into the path of the Hubbards' Honda because he was drowsy or had fallen asleep and was no longer consciously directing the course of the vehicle."
- © Fairfax NZ News