A television journalist is disappointed the man who injured her in a crash was not given a harsher sentence.
Peng Wang, a 29-year-old Chinese national, was yesterday sentenced to 80 hours community work and ordered to pay $25,000 after being found guilty last week of careless driving causing injury.
Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford was hit by Wang’s car while riding her daughter’s horse, Curious George, last August. “He’s basically stolen eight months of our life and all he gets is 80 hours’ community work,” she said.
Rutherford and her 13-year-old daughter, Ella, were riding on Postman Road in Dairy Flat, north of Auckland, when Wang’s people mover hit the horse, throwing the journalist into his windscreen and then into a ditch.
The 44-year-old’s leg catapulted into her head, the force of which tore the skin and tissue away from the muscle, almost ripping off her leg.
Her injuries were so severe a surgeon could put his whole hand in her leg, which was broken in several places, as well as bones in her feet and toes. Curious George had to be put down due to its injuries.
Judge Jonathan Down said Wang’s driving was an example of “gross carelessness”.
But when he found Wang guilty, the judge said the offending was at the top end of careless driving.
Rutherford said she expected a harsher sentence, not necessarily jail time but at least 120 hours’ community work.
The journalist has returned to work at Newshub in a planning role with reduced hours as she is still in recovery. She sees three physios each week on top of neurologist and surgeon appointments and had ongoing pain.
“Peng Wang might be going home but the pain I have isn’t going away.”
At sentencing in the Auckland District Court, Judge Down concluded Wang was going too fast for the circumstances as he was probably going between 60kph to 70kph.
The judge also said Wang gave the first horse which Ella was riding “probably less” than 50cm passing room and in effect gave no room to Rutherford on Curious George.
Defence lawyer Tiffany Cooper read from a pre-sentence report which indicated Wang had been “devastated” by what happened.
Judge Down ordered he pay the Rutherfords $21,400 in reparation for the actual costs of the crash as well as a further payment for their emotional harm making the total $25,000.
Wang was also ordered to do 80 hours community work, which Judge Down said would have been significantly longer if Wang’s visa did not expire in a couple of weeks.
Wang was also disqualified from driving in New Zealand for 18 months.
NZME-New Zealand Herald