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Failed to see rider on night sleep drive

Taking restless children for a ride in the car to get them to sleep is a longstanding tradition, but it went horribly wrong for one mum earlier this year, Gisborne District Court was told.

On April 3, Hinemaia Tofi, 44, failed to see an oncoming motorcyclist after stopping at an intersection, and pulled out into her path causing a collision, the court heard.

The motorcyclist was badly hurt and Tofi, who had no prior convictions, was subsequently charged with careless use causing injury.

She pleaded guilty.

The charge is punishable by up to three months imprisonment or a fine of up to $4500, with a driving disqualification of at least six months.

Sentenced by Judge Turitea Bolstad, Tofi was convicted and disqualified from driving for six months.

The judge noted Tofi had already undertaken through the restorative justice process to pay the motorcyclist about $2500 for emotional harm and loss of income, and had already paid necessary insurance costs.

The judge agreed with counsel Leighvi Maynard that given steps Tofi had taken, the conviction and disqualification were sufficient alone for the court not to impose any additional penalty.

Mr Maynard said Tofi was simply doing what a lot of mothers have traditionally done by taking children for a drive as a means of getting them to sleep. She never meant for it to turn into “an awful accident”.

The motorcyclist had a Go-Pro camera on the front of her bike, footage from which he and Tofi had the “displeasure” of watching, Mr Maynard said. However, it supported Tofi’s claim of a momentary loss of attention in which she stopped at the intersection to look for traffic but missed seeing the motorcyclist.

Tofi was genuinely remorseful, as indicated by her early guilty plea and other actions after the incident, Mr Maynard said.

Although cautious about intruding, she had visited the woman in hospital to apologise, and acknowledges her injuries were serious. (The woman is still undergoing rehabilitation.)

The two women and their families had since met at restorative justice, which was a positive experience, Mr Maynard said. Tofi committed to making the agreed financial recompense.

Police did not oppose the sentence advocated for by Mr Maynard. Prosecutor Dave Walker said the motorcyclist’s family appreciated Tofi remaining with the woman at the scene immediately after the collision. They accepted her apology and held no animosity towards her.