Fatal crash lies lead to home detention

FATAL ACCIDENT: The truck crashed off the road in the Otira Gorge in April 2012.
FATAL ACCIDENT: The truck crashed off the road in the Otira Gorge in April 2012.

Two men who lied to the police after an accident that killed a man were sentenced to home detention in the Christchurch District Court today.

Feng Sun, 39, told the police he was the driver of a truck that crashed off the road in the Otira Gorge in April 2012, and Yu Ouyang, 52, who was a witness in a car following the truck, also said Sun was the driver.

Danian Xu, a 49-year-old chef, was killed in the accident.

When the men finally confessed to the police another man was driving it was too late to charge him because of a limitation period, and as the truth was not suspected forensic testing was not done at the scene of the accident.

Sun was asked to lie by the driver because he did not have a licence to drive a truck, and was charged with careless use of motor vehicle causing death, and careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury.

When he finally confessed to the police that he was not the driver, both men were charged with perverting the course of justice. They pleaded guilty in May.

Defence counsel Simon Clay said Sun was not acting in self interest but misguided loyalty in trying to protect his friend. Once he made the initial statement, he fell into a trap of no return.

Sun had attended a restorative justice conference with the victim's family and offered a $10,000 emotional harm payment, he said.

James Rapley said Ouyang told Sun he couldn't continue with the lie and they both went to the police and told them the truth.

Ouyang was the victim's employer and felt the death personally, he said.

He confessed to Mr Xu's wife, employed her, paid legal fees for residency for the family, and helped them with free food. The restorative justice report said she was extremely grateful, he said.

Judge Kevin Glubb said justice had been irrevocably obstructed and frustrated by the two men.

He said there had been a successful and compelling restorative justice conference, and both men had offered significant moral, financial and practical support to the Xu family.

He sentenced Ouyang to five months' home detention, and Sun to seven months' home detention and an emotional harm reparation payment of $10,000 to Mr Xu's widow.

The Press