5 Apr 2017

Driver ordered to pay $25,000 for hitting horse and rider

11:04 pm on 5 April 2017

A man who drove into a horse, killing it and seriously injuring its rider, has been ordered to pay $25,000 in reparations and do 80 hours of community work.

Journalist Karen Rutherford on why she supports foreign driver test: RNZ Checkpoint

Karen Rutherford Photo: RNZ / YouTube

In the Auckland District Court today, Peng Wang was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.

The Chinese national had been convicted of careless driving causing injury, after hitting TV journalist Karen Rutherford while she was riding along a road in Dairy Flat north of Auckland last August.

Ms Rutherford said the sentence was disappointing, as Wang was leaving the country in two weeks anyway, so the disqualification was just lip service.

"This man has robbed us of eight months of our lives," she said.

"He'll be standing there on the side of the road with a shovel, probably having a chat for much of that, and we've been put through a hell of a lot of pain and suffering - I just don't think it reflects that."

Four thousand of the $25,000 reparations would go towards emotional trauma, but Ms Rutherford said it was not enough.

"The judge indicated that that only goes some way to reflect the trauma the family has been through, and he's bang on the money on that one.

"For us, it's not about the money, we would rather have [the horse] George here and we don't have that option, we have a man that has shown absolutely no remorse from go to whoa and that's insulting."

Ms Rutherford said there needed to be changes to road safety rules for motorists encountering horse riders - and stricter rules on foreign drivers.

Judy Richards, whose 23-year-old son Rhys was killed by a foreign driver, has also been pushing for legislative change.

The sentence given to Wang was insulting, she said.

"It's a nothing sentence really ... He gets to go home to his own country and live a relatively normal life, while leaving all this behind."

Ms Richard's petition, which Ms Rutherford backed, called for tighter restrictions on foreign drivers, including requiring new drivers to the country to sit a basic road rule test.

"The government is trying to get tourists out of buses and driving."

She said, unless changes were made, accidents would keep happening.

NZ Horse Network president Viv Dostine also has a petition for the government - to give horse riders the same recognition in national road policy as walkers and cyclists.

"There's no consideration of the fact that if the horse hadn't been killed, Karen most definitely would have.

"That's a 500kg animal with its leg ripped off, she would have taken the full brunt of that impact."

Trails and pathways should be created in rural areas to accommodate horse riders, she said.