Crash investigator questioned over report

17:00, Jul 23 2013
William Gregory Hoskins
INQUIRY: A Coroner's inquest into William Gregory Hoskins' death is being held in the Hamilton District Court.

Several questions have been raised over a police serious crash unit report into the death of a Hastings man hit and killed by a car at Matangi last year - including the experience of the crash investigator.

In the first of a two-day inquest held before Coroner Garry Evans in the Hamilton District Court yesterday, former Waikato-based serious crash unit analyst Constable Rebecca Dearing was asked by Coroner Evans why the issue of lighting was not taken into consideration for a crash that occurred about 4.40am.

William Gregory Hoskins, 26, was left injured and bleeding on the side of State Highway 1B, at the intersection with Bellevue Rd, after attending his cousin's wedding nearby on January 15.

David Mascelle - the husband of community magistrate Ngaire Mascelle - was initially charged with careless driving causing death but that charge was later withdrawn by police.

Ms Dearing was asked why the weight of Mr Mascelle's load on his late-model Ford Falcon ute and trailer - 800kg - was not taken into account into the effectiveness of the vehicle's headlights.

"I'm not qualified to say how much that would effect the lighting or not," she said.


The court also heard Mr Mascelle's trailer did not have a WOF, which it would have failed anyway because it did not have working brakes.

But the biggest questions hung over lighting and why the illumination from a streetlight - which stood roughly 10m away from Mr Hoskins' body - was not taken into consideration when compiling her report.

Ms Dearing said she used calculations from serious crash unit research to determine whether a road user would have been able to stop in time, but that research did not cover the effect of street lighting.

But counsel assisting Coroner Evans, Chris Gudsell, said that type of research was probably very important when "comparing research which compares apples with apples".

Mr Gudsell also said Ms Dearing could not use Mr Mascelle's estimated speed of between 60kmh and 70kmh as first mentioned in his statement, because he later retracted it, twice.

Ms Dearing, who is now policing in Taranaki, then conceded she should have gone back to the scene to measure the effects of the lighting.

The court heard a vehicle gained an extra 40 per cent of light when driving on full beam.

Mr Mascelle was driving with his lights on dim beam, or normal beam.

Coroner Evans also questioned Ms Dearing's experience after she confirmed that she was the most junior member of her team.

However, her report was signed off by her boss at the time, former Waikato road policing manager Leo Tooman.

First to give evidence yesterday was Malcolm McMartin, of Auckland, who was the last person to see Mr Hoskins alive.

He said Mr Hoskins didn't seem that intoxicated but was "boisterous".

Matangi man, and Fonterra truck driver Campbell Primmer, saw Mr Mascelle's vehicle drive over Mr Hoskins body on the road.

He saw the vehicle suddenly rise on its left hand side before dropping back down as it went through the intersection with Bellevue Rd.

Mr Primmer initially thought was a rubbish bag or tool bag that had fallen off the back of Mr Mascelle's vehicle ahead. It was not until he pulled up alongside that he realised it was a body.

Waikato Times