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Easter crash driver given one-year home detention

The driver of a stolen vehicle who fled the scene of a horrific head-on crash in Featherston has been sentenced to home detention.

The sentencing in Hutt Valley District Court took place almost a year to the day after Rhian Lloyd, 24, cut a corner at a State Highway 53 [SH53] intersection and collided with another vehicle.

Lloyd was already facing a raft of driving-related charges at the time of last year’s April 15 crash, which left two people in hospital – including the driver of the other vehicle, who had to be cut from the wreckage before being airlifted to Wellington Hospital in a serious condition.

Last month, Lloyd apologised to the driver after hearing her victim impact statement in court.

Judge Arthur Tompkins described the statement as a “testament to the physical and emotional harm” done, which continued to be “intrusively impactful” on the driver’s life – and noted that she has another surgery scheduled for later this year to remove a metal rod and screws from a leg that was broken.

He also noted that the 12-month period from the crash until sentencing had caused her “considerable ongoing trauma”.

During the April 18 sentencing hearing, Judge Tompkins said Lloyd was facing charges of obstruction and driving while suspended, and two charges of vehicle theft related to offences in early April and January 2022.

He said the most serious group of charges – theft, failing to stop after an injury crash, and causing injury while under the influence of a drug – arose from the Good Friday crash when Lloyd, driving a stolen ute west along SH53, cut the corner as she attempted a right turn into Camp Rd.

“She immediately decamped the scene without checking on the occupants of the other vehicle, in particular the driver … [who] was trapped inside.”

Tompkins outlined how Lloyd then stole a nearby resident’s vehicle, prompting another motorist to pursue her 8km toward Lake Ferry while he was on the phone to police.

The second stolen vehicle was ultimately found crashed in a ditch.

Defence lawyer Letitia Smith said Lloyd’s “not inconsiderable criminal history” would give a starting point of three years imprisonment.

However, a number of factors – including Lloyd’s obvious sense of remorse, the six months in custody and further eight months on restrictive electronically monitored bail – should be taken into consideration with her early guilty pleas when deciding on a sentence.

Smith also noted Lloyd’s clean record since the serious crash and the fact she had started studying.

Judge Tompkins accepted Smith’s argument and said imprisonment would be inconsistent “with the purposes and principles of sentencing”, and a less restrictive sentence of home detention was appropriate.

However, he stressed that should Lloyd abscond or be convicted of further driving offences in the future, imprisonment was likely.

When it came to the question of driving disqualification, Judge Tompkins agreed with the police prosecution. He convicted and sentenced Lloyd to 10 months’ home detention as per the conditions of a pre-sentence report, and three years’ disqualification from driving.

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