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Drink driver guilty of causing death

A vehicle upside down on Upper Waingawa Rd, west of Masterton, after a crash which killed an 8-year-old girl. PHOTO/FILE

The Masterton woman responsible for the death of an eight-year-old girl in a single-vehicle crash near Kaituna last year, was convicted on Monday on three charges of drinking and driving.

The 35-year-old woman appeared before Judge Arthur Tompkins in the Masterton District Court on Monday, where she pleaded guilty to one charge of driving with excess breath alcohol third or subsequent offence, excess breath alcohol causing injury and excess breath alcohol causing death.

She had been travelling along Upper Waingawa Rd in Kaituna, near Masterton, on November 2 last year after going to a popular swimming hole with family.

The woman was driving a Toyota SUV, with three children and another adult in the car, when she lost control on an unsealed section of the road approaching a bend.

She told police she had swerved to avoid hitting a rabbit.

The vehicle was travelling at a speed of approximately 65 kilometres per hour when it skidded across the gravel road surface, the front passenger’s corner of the vehicle hitting the bank on the left before rolling and coming to a stop upside down in a 180-degree direction from the initial impact.

The eight-year-old girl suffered a head injury and died at the scene while her mother, the other adult passenger, was airlifted to Hutt Hospital.

The driver later returned a positive breath alcohol result at a reading of 600 micrograms per litre of breath – the legal limit for drivers aged 20 years and over is 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath.

She admitted to consuming up to six vodka cruiser drinks.

It was her fourth drink driving offence, and the woman was unlicensed at the time of the crash.

Represented by defence lawyer Andra Mobberley, the woman also pleaded guilty to and was convicted on two cannabis charges from a separate event, one of cultivation and one of possession to produce
cannabis oil.

However, she entered not guilty pleas to four remaining charges, three relating to possession of restricted firearms and one of receiving stolen goods valued from $500 to $1000.

The woman elected to have these tried in a judge-alone-trial, where she would also face sentencing for the five charges she was convicted on.

She was granted interim name suppression, which the crown prosecutor Stephanie Bishop did not oppose.

The woman was remanded on bail until sentencing later in June.

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