Driver in fatal van crash sent to jail

Last updated 10:48 06/09/2013

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A 49-year-old Nightcaps shed hand who crashed a van, leaving one person dead and three seriously injured, has been jailed.

Henry Tai Jack was yesterday sentenced to 21 months' jail for driving carelessly while under the influence of drink and/or drugs, causing the death of Michael Ngarahu Grey at Mossburn on December 13 last year.

Judge Gary MacAskill handed down the sentence in the Invercargill District Court after Jack had earlier admitted the charge.

He also admitted three other charges of causing bodily injury by driving carelessly while under the influence of drink or a drug, or both.

Jack was also ordered to pay $3098 reparation and disqualified from driving for two years and six months.

The police summary of facts, which was not read in court, said Jack got up about 4.30am on December 13 and went to work.

After work he drank about two or three stubbies of beer before driving to Centre Hill to help at another shed.

He drove back to Mossburn before leaving in the Toyota Hiace mini-van with eight passengers and towing a trailer, travelling between 90kmh and 100kmh, the summary said.

While driving on the Mossburn Wreys Bush Rd, Jack drifted to the left hand side and on to the grass verge.

The vehicle travelled along the verge for about 36m before colliding with a structure built against a wall for support.

The impact ripped the structure from its setting and sent it about 35m down the road.

The vehicle was airborne for about five metres before hitting the ground and rolling through a concrete power pole, which broke.

The vehicle continued forward, ripping the base of the pole from the ground, and stopped on its side, it said.

Jack and the front seat passenger, Mr Grey, were sent partially through the windscreen while the back seat passengers were thrown forward, landing on top of each other.

Mr Grey, died at the scene from multiple injuries including severe head trauma.

Three rear seat passengers suffered serious injuries.

Jack suffered serious leg injuries.

Jack and another passenger were taken to hospital by helicopter while the others were taken by ambulance.

A blood sample taken from Jack showed a result of 30mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood (The legal driving limit is 80mg).

But subsequent analysis indicated at the time of the crash his level would have been between 58mg to 83mg, the summary said.

The blood sample also indicated an approximate level of about 0.7 micograms of THC [the active constituent of cannabis] per litre of blood, which was consistent with smoking the equivalent of a cannabis cigarette about one to eight hours before the blood sample being taken.

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Jack declined to comment to police but the next day said he had felt "overly tired".

Jack's lawyer, Hugo Young said it was a "very sad and tragic event", for which he was remorseful.

Judge MacAskill said it did not appear Jack was speeding.

- The Southland Times

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