Taxi driver sentenced

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 16:42 11/12/2012
Lee Tracey
Fairfax NZ
Lee Tracey

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A Hamilton taxi driver has been ordered to pay emotional harm to the family of a man that he killed after hitting him in the city last year.

Lee Tracey, 52, of Deanwell, had originally pleaded not guilty to careless driving causing death of 27-year-old Rowan Humffreys on October 2.

But last week, he plead guilty to the charge and was today convicted and ordered to pay $1000 emotional harm to Mr Humffreys' family who were in court to hear Judge Denise Clark hand down the sentence.

He also avoided having his licence disqualified due to the "special circumstances" of the offending.

Tracey's counsel James Gernick said Mr Humffreys did contribute to the accident and his death on the night.

Mr Humffreys was intoxicated and recorded a blood alcohol level four times the legal driving limit.

However, Mr Gernick said Tracey accepted he was travelling a bit fast, between 54kph and 61kph at the time of the crash on Thackery St, outside the Anglesea Clinic.

Mr Gernick said Tracey's guilty plea was a "finely balanced decision ultimately" given their own independent crash report which signalled that the accident would have happened whether he was travelling at the speed limit or not.

Mr Gernick said Tracey's level of carelessness was at the "lowest end".

Tracey had not been back in a taxi since the crash and had since given up the profession and only just recently finding a new job.

But police prosecutor Andy Kennedy said Tracey's culpability should be a bit higher, given there was a high likelihood that there would be a lot of drunk people in the area at the time - 3.30am.

"Tracey may have been aware that in all likelihood the deceased was possibly intoxicated and therefore could have been about to do almost anything and as such should have been in a position of starting to slow down and especially with the likelihood of there being an impact."

Tracey had accepted that he had seen Mr Humffreys prior to hiting him.

Judge Denise Clark acknowledged Mr Humffreys parents Ann and Hillman, and his sister, Angela Alison and her nine-month-old son, Sam, prior to getting started.

Judge Clark accepted Tracey's offer of emotional harm reparation, but said it in no way was to "put a price on the death of Mr Humffreys'."

"That's not what it's for, but in a very small way to try and offer something to his family to deal with his loss."

However, Tracey is currently not in a financial position to pay a lump sum so Judge Clark ordered it be paid at no less than $20 per week.

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The special circumstances in granting Tracey not face a driving disqualification relate to the contributing factors of the crash, including Mr Humffrey's high blood alcohol level.

Mr Tracey declined to speak to the Waikato Times after sentencing.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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