24 Apr 2012

Truck driver 'unlikely to be jailed' over bus crash

5:06 pm on 24 April 2012

A logging truck driver who admits driving carelessly after a school bus crash in the eastern Bay of Plenty is unlikely to be jailed, the presiding judge says.

Joe Morehu appeared in Whakatane District Court on Tuesday in relation to the collision between his truck and the bus near Ruatoki in September last year.

The bus was shunted 80 metres into a paddock. Thirty-six children were injured, including 16 seriously.

Initially, Morehu faced 16 charges of dangerous driving causing injury, but all were replaced with a representative charge of careless driving causing injury to 16 people.

The 42-year-old pleaded guilty to two charges under the Land Transport Act of producing a logbook containing between one and five omissions and exceeding the maximum continuous work time period of five-and-a-half hours on the day of the crash.

In addition, he pleaded guilty to a charge of drink-driving for a separate incident in December last year.

Judge Robert Wolff told Morehu that, even though the offending was very serious, it is unlikely he will have to spend time in prison.

Morehu will reappear in court on 4 July after a restorative justice conference and a probation officer meeting.