Crash victim asks judge not to jail sleepy driver


A Karori mother sentenced to a life of pain when a sleepy driver ploughed into her car has asked a judge not to send the man to jail.

"Closure" came for Suz Bassett yesterday, a year after a driver travelling at 100kmh on State Highway 1 near Hunterville fell asleep, crossed the centre line and collided with her head-on.

Her spine cracked and her spleen ruptured, her skull fractured in three places and her knee was shattered.

Doctors gave her a 5 per cent chance of survival and now predict she will suffer chronic pain for the rest of her life.

The driver, Tevita Drotakileqaimakoi Tokalauvere, 25, was sentenced to complete 400 hours' community work, pay $10,000 reparation at $20 a week and disqualified from driving for a year at Upper Hutt District Court yesterday.

Ms Bassett asked Judge Susan Thomas to spare him from jail because it would be too harsh.

She said afterwards: "They told me that he was young and had the rest of his life ahead of him and ... I didn't know if [jail] would serve a useful purpose ... The police prosecutor said he didn't intend to fall asleep. That wasn't his intention to harm me."

Ms Bassett had to give up her job as an ecologist, in which she would tramp for hours to monitor kiwi eggs, and spend months in hospital in intensive care and rehabilitation.


Fairfax New Zealand