Badly hurt crash victim faces culprit in court

By Sandra Conchie

A motorcyclist seriously injured when he was knocked from his motorcycle confronted the culprit who "ruined his life" in court last week.

Kenneth Waterson, 61, from Gate Pa, was appearing in the Tauranga Community Magistrate's Court for sentence on a charge of careless driving causing injury and Peter Casey, 58, from Papamoa was there.

Mr Casey was riding his motorcycle towards Tauranga on State Highway 29 on the Matamata side of the Lower Kaimais last October 13 when the crash occurred. Waterson was also heading to Tauranga when he lost control of his vehicle and collided with Mr Casey, smashing his leg up against his bike before catapulting him into a paddock. Waterson's vehicle rolled but he and his wife sustained only minor bruising.

Mr Casey's injuries included a shattered rotocuff in one shoulder, spinal factures in his middle and lower back, and significant damage to his left leg, which is now 2cm shorter. The crash took a chunk out of Mr Casey's leg, fractured the tibia, broke his fibula in three places, tearing nerves, tendons and ligaments.

Mr Casey spent 10 weeks in Tauranga and Waikato Hospitals undergoing 15 surgeries, including bone and skin grafts, and is facing at least two more operations. He may yet lose his leg, and his $30,000 Harley Davidson was written off.

Waterson's lawyer Kaye Davies told Community Magistrate Jack Best Waterson was remorseful and offered an emotional harm payment of $5000. She said Waterson was also aware the accident had cost Mr Casey an opportunity to use his military skills overseas, and resulted in a whole lifestyle change.

During a tense stand-off Mr Casey rejected the $5000 offer, pointing out he was seeking compensation for $8469 expenses, including costs for his numerous hospital visits. Waterson then made a counter-offer of $7500.

"I never understood what closure was about until the restorative justice meeting a couple of weeks ago," Mr Casey told Waterson. "There will be no bloody closure for us until you say you accept you were responsible for the accident. Thanks very much, get on with your good life, you have ruined mine."

Mr Best said, taking into account Waterson's reparation offer, a prison sentence was not warranted, and sentenced him to 100 hours' community work, disqualified him from driving for seven months, ordered him to pay $3000 for emotional harm and $7500 reparation.

Mr Casey later told the Bay of Plenty Times Waterson's attitude and attempts to shift the blame had been most hurtful. "I know it was an accident but I went to the restorative justice meeting preparing to accept his apology but he refused to take responsibility for causing the crash. Secondly he hadn't even bothered to inquire about the extent of my injuries before the meeting, which I think is absolutely despicable.

"If he had only turned to me and my wife Christine and told us he was sorry it would have gone a long way to achieving closure but his begrudging acceptance has left a sour taste ... We can accept it was an accident, but we can't accept his attitude."

Waterson could not be contacted for comment.


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