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‘I will never drive again’

An elderly man has been convicted of careless driving after crashing into several cars and a pedestrian, who was seriously injured.

John Thompson, 92, appeared in Masterton District Court last Friday, where he was convicted of careless driving causing injury, ordered to pay $2000 of emotional harm reparation, and disqualified from driving for six months.

At 1.45pm on Christmas Eve 2022, Thompson hit the accelerator of his car while reversing out of a car park on Masterton’s Queen St.

He struck a car parked on the other side of the street, pushing it up and onto the footpath where it slammed a pedestrian against a shop’s frontage, before accelerating forward, and in the process hitting the same car and causing it to crash into another vehicle.

He crossed the centre line again and hit another three vehicles before becoming wedged, causing an unintended burnout and smoke.

Members of the public had to intervene before emergency services attended.

The victim was transported to Wellington Hospital by helicopter with fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, and a broken wrist. The police prosecutor said the victim needed further surgery for the broken ankle and has been unable to work since the incident.

“He had just completed a year as a sole trader, and doctors have told him he won’t be able to work again this year; he may never be able to use a ladder again safely,” the prosecutor said.

“I invited him to come to court today, but he said he was too hot-headed, and it would make him too angry.”

The victim wanted $17,000 in damages, calculated from the value of the contracts he could not complete due to his injuries.

Defence lawyer Ian Hard said that figure was too high, given that ACC is responsible for covering the cost of lost employment, but said Thompson was willing to pay several thousand in reparations.

“He’s had a good career as a police officer with no convictions; he was involved in a very unfortunate accident,” Hard said.

“Mr Thompson assures the court he will never be driving again.”

Judge Kelly said the victim was “severely impacted” by the offending but acknowledged that Thompson was 92 with no previous convictions, had expressed remorse, and had entered a guilty plea
at the earliest opportunity.

“To your credit, immediately after this incident, you made the decision that you will never drive again,” Kelly said.

“Definitely not, your honour,” he replied from the dock.

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