13 Dec 2010

Man accused of double fatal crash denied bail

3:46 pm on 13 December 2010

A man accused of crashing a car into the Whanganui River killing a woman and a toddler has been denied bail due to his string of driving and court offences.

Police say the 38-year-old man was speeding and was likely to have been drunk when he crashed on Sunday.

Donovan James Tuirirangi, a fitter and welder, is charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Frances Rachel Te Kaawa, aged 38.

Police say a two-year-old girl in the car died after being thrown into the water.

Police say Mr Tuirirangi overtook two vehicles at an estimated 100km/h on Anzac Parade, a 50km/h residential road, before blowing a tyre and plunging down a bank into the river about 1.20pm.

No drink-driving charges have yet been laid, but police say the accused's initial breathalyser reading was over 600mg of alcohol per litre of breath and they are awaiting blood test results.

Mr Tuirirangi was denied bail after the judge went through his record, which includes recent imprisonment for drink-driving and dangerous driving, and convictions for breaching bail conditions, including drink-driving while on bail.

The judge said there was a risk he would interfere with witnesses, two of whom are his nephews, if he was freed on bail.

There were about three dozen supporters at court, many wearing Mongrel Mob clothing, and one raised the gang's hand signal as Mr Tuirirangi was taken away.

At least four women wept in the court's public gallery during the appearance.

Police expect to lay more serious charges at Mr Tuirirangi's next appearance on 18 January.