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Driver discharged without conviction

A Masterton woman who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after crashing her vehicle while her friend was riding on its bonnet was discharged without conviction at the Masterton District Court this week.

The incident occurred on August 19 last year and culminated in the defendant, Jasmin Colman, fleeing the scene.

Tom Andrews, Colman’s counsel, described the act as one of “youthful stupidity”, and said the effects on her had been “nothing short of disastrous”.

Coleman’s car was written off in the incident, and her insurance providers have refused to pay out on her policy because she fled the scene, Andrews said.

“She is now homeless, living in a sleepout with her aunt, and is estranged from the vast majority of her family.”

She also has “significant debt”.

Andrews described the effects on others – which included a minor concussion for the victim on the car bonnet – as “minor, and all have been rectified completely”.

“She is determined not to be here again,” Andrews said. “She well understands the mess she landed herself in, and I ask your honour to exercise your discretion in this matter.”

In sentencing, Judge Noel Sainsbury described Colman’s behaviour as “incredibly stupid”.

He noted how Colman had her car with her at a friend’s house and “at some point for reasons that are best described as ‘it seemed a good idea at the time’, the victim got on the bonnet of the car, and you drove”.

“This is something you did from time to time, thinking it was fun,” Judge Sainsbury said. “Undoubtedly, fun, stupid, and dangerous things often are until someone gets hurt.”

With her friend still on the bonnet, Colman accelerated down the road, crossed an intersection, and swerved.

“Through a combination of your driving and your friend on the front of the car impeding your vision, you crash into a parked car,” the judge said.

“It seems that after the incident, the friend and another person associated with her have taken umbrage and kicked and damaged Ms Colman’s car. Because of how people reacted, Ms Colman says she went missing. She was spoken to by police a day later.”

While Colman’s friends reported she had been drinking to police, this could not be confirmed, and police did not breathalyse her, Judge Sainsbury said.

Describing her offending as “dangerous but at the lower end of the scale”, Judge Sainsbury told the court that Colman, “to her credit”, has “endeavoured to put things right”, including doing over 40 hours of unpaid work and completing an advanced driving course.

Arguing in favour of “some element of disqualification”, police prosecutor Sergeant Scott said that while police did not oppose a discharge without conviction, the incident was “dangerous” and “could have been a lot worse”.

Judge Sainsbury considered a fine “disproportionate”, and that conviction “would not serve any purpose”.

Taking into account background factors – which Sainsbury would not disclose in open court – he said “carrying a conviction and disqualification from driving would very much imperil her ability to care for children, and undermine where she’s got to”.

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