5 Aug 2011

Father walks free after son's drowning

7:51 pm on 5 August 2011

A man whose son died in an accident in Central Otago says not a day goes by that he wishes he had used the handbrake when parking.

Ashish Macwan has been discharged without conviction after his three-year-old son drowned in Lake Dunstan at Easter.

Mr Macwan forgot to use the vehicle's handbrake when he pulled over for a break on 21 April and the minivan rolled into the water with the restrained boy inside.

Three adults and a 10-year-old child managed to get out but attempts to unbuckle the boy failed. A witness dived down to the vehicle but was also unable to rescue him.

Mr Macwan had earlier pled guilty to careless driving causing death, but Judge Blackie discharged him without conviction in the Manukau District Court in Auckland on Friday.

The judge said the father had suffered enough and did not deserve a criminal record as his carelessness was minimal.

Mr Macwan said despite the court's decision, he cannot forgive himself. "I got a discharge without conviction, but I couldn't give a discharge in my heart."

He said the discharge means that he and his wife have a chance at gaining New Zealand residency and staying in the country where his son is buried.

The couple is expecting another child in February.