Auckland woman acted to save herself, lawyer says

2:51 pm on 24 November 2016

A woman accused of reversing her car into a furniture removal man would never risk everything for a few sticks of furniture, her lawyer says.


Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Natalie Sharon Tabb has denied a charge of dangerous driving causing injury and is on trial in the Auckland District Court.

The Crown says Ms Tabb failed to take reasonable precautions when she reversed her car and struck Thomas McAndrew outside her house in the North Shore suburb of Albany, in June last year.

But Ms Tabb's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, told the jury in her closing address that her client had calmly parked over the driveway when she arrived home to find her ex-husband with removal men loading up a furniture truck.

She said, during the two-hour standoff, Ms Tabb called police and her lawyer but remained calm.

Ms Dyhrberg said the removal men planned to drive the truck at Ms Tabb in the hope that she would get out of the way. They also acted in secret to stop Ms Tabb thwarting their exit strategy.

She said as the truck came down the driveway Ms Tabb believed she was in danger and had several thoughts going through her head. "What's going to happen to me? Will I be badly hurt? Will I die? Who will look after my children?"

Ms Dyhrberg said Ms Tabb acted quickly to save herself, and her client would never intentionally drive into someone and risk her career and reputation for a few sticks of furniture.

The suggestion Ms Tabb used her vehicle as a weapon was a very serious allegation, she said.

But Crown prosecutor Karen Chang said there was no imminent danger to Ms Tabb and instead she had been aggressive and antagonistic.

In her closing address, Ms Chang said the furniture truck was fully laden and moving slowly - Ms Tabb was not forced to make a split-second judgement.

She said the truck was actually veering left off the driveway and not heading directly for Ms Tabb at all. Instead, the plan was to drive over a small garden to allow the truck to avoid Ms Tabb's car.

She said there was no danger to Ms Tabb and she chose not to sound her horn or even wind down her window to call out. Instead, she reversed into the pathway of the truck, rather than driving forwards.

Ms Chang said Ms Tabb hit Mr McAndrew twice, leaving him with bruising to his hip and a broken finger. Ms Chang reminded the jurors that Ms Tabb had told the court she had felt and heard nothing.

Ms Chang encouraged the jurors to draw on their commonsense.

She said Ms Tabb failed to check on Mr McAndrew and never showed any concern for the injuries she had caused him.

"You might find she drove into Mr McAndrew intentionally but that's not necessary to find her liable."

Ms Chang said the test was whether her driving fell below the standard expected of a reasonable driver.

"A license to drive is a privilege - not a right. When someone chooses to get behind a wheel, they're responsible to the public - not just to those they care about but the public."

The jury has retired to consider their verdicts after hearing a summing-up of the case from Judge Mary Sharp.