Dutch businessman regularly visited NZ
Johannes Jacobus Appelman is a "big player" in the Netherlands' flower bulb industry.
The 52-year-old is the owner of a firm that sells air-conditioning, heating and drying systems for commercial flower bulb growers, seed growers and arable farmers.
Appelman, who regularly travelled to New Zealand on business, was driving to a Rakaia farm on May 31 when he ran a stop sign on Somerton Rd, killing a mother and two 12-year-old girls.
Sally Rumble, 49, daughter Ella Summerfield and Ella's friend, Abigail Hone, died instantly.
Appelman's rented stationwagon hit the side of their Volvo, which was westbound on Thompson's Track. Rumble's husband, Shane Summerfield, was driving the Volvo. He was seriously injured.
Appelman, who surrendered his passport after his first appearance in the Christchurch District Court, stayed with Dutch friends in West Melton while on bail.
The friends own Ariki Seeds, which produces specialised seed crops. Company founder Arjen Buter supported Appelman in court. The two men were understood to have grown up in the same neighbourhood.
Rakaia-based Van Zanten Flower Bulbs manager Anton Warmerdam said Appelman's firm was "quite famous" in the Dutch flower bulb industry.
"There are three or four big players and he [Appelman] is one of them." Warmerdam met Appelman in a private capacity in the Netherlands and in New Zealand. His last business connection with Appelman's company was in 2001.
Judge David Saunders noted in the Christchurch District Court yesterday that Appelman's business was in "some difficulty" as a result of the crash and his time spent in Canterbury awaiting sentence.
At an earlier court appearance, Appelman's lawyer, Philip Shamy, said his client was a "significant" businessman who regularly travelled in Australia and New Zealand.
According to Netherlands Government records, the Dutch export value of flowers, plants and bulbs is more than €6 billion (NZ$9.2b) a year, with Dutch flower bulbs capturing more than 80 per cent of world export markets.