Hit-and-run driver sentenced

DIED INSTANTLY: Sean Hutt, 20.
DIED INSTANTLY: Sean Hutt, 20.

Harry Silcock is living with the tragic consequences of a moment's inattention when he did not notice a gathering of people on a roadside, a court has heard.

His car struck two men and Sean Hutt, 20, died instantly at the side of Shands Rd about 11pm on September 15.

Silcock, 18, had failed to notice 70 people on the roadside near the Marshs Rd intersection, when he passed another car on a yellow line. 

COURT: Harry Silcock, 18, leaves the Christchurch District Court earlier this year.
COURT: Harry Silcock, 18, leaves the Christchurch District Court earlier this year.

Brake marks showed he stopped after the crash, but he drove off because he was scared and he panicked, his defence counsel James Rapley told the Christchurch District Court today.

He handed himself in to the police next day.

Silcock, a welder from Burnham, pleaded guilty in October to charges of dangerous driving causing death and injury, and failing to stop and give assistance after an fatal accident.

Hutt was working as a foundation supervisor and wanted to be a line mechanic.

His twin brother Callum wrote to the court that his death had taken away "half of who I was".

"He was a kind person. I miss him all the time. Part of me is missing."

His loss had left a huge void in the life of his family.

Judge Jane Farish said: "It is something they don't think they can come to terms with."

Silcock had grown up on the West Coast. 

He had worked since he was 13 or 14, and had saved $35,000 which he was to use as a deposit on a house.

He would pay his own legal costs, and he was offering to pay emotional harm reparations to the man he injured, and the family of the man he killed.

Judge Farish said the case was not about retribution nor trying to assess the value of a life, but she noted that Parliament had now increased the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death from five years to ten.

She said a term of imprisonment would do nothing for Silcock and she did not believe it would do anything for the community.

"Your risk of reoffending is non-existent," she said.

"Imprisonment will not replace Mr Hutt."

She decided home detention could be imposed instead "by a very narrow margin".

Judge Farish urged the victim's family to take part in a restorative justice conference with Silcock, for their own benefit.

She imposed 10 months home detention, ordered Silcock to do 250 hours of community work and ordered him to pay reparations of $10,000 to Hutt's parents, and $5000 to the man whose ankle was broken.

She also disqualified him from driving for two-and-a-half years. 

She said: "Young people need to realise that motor vehicles are inherently dangerous and a moment's inattention can have tragic consequences."

Rapley said none of the grave aggravating features seen in other similar cases were present in this case.

There was no exhibitionism or desire to show off.

He was assessed as travelling at 92kmh on the rural road, which had a limit of 100kmh an hour.

The Press