Killer appeals prison sentence

By Tracey Chatterton

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A Chinese woman jailed for killing motorcyclist Rhys Middleton in a crash near Eskdale is appealing her sentence. Photo/file
A Chinese woman jailed for killing motorcyclist Rhys Middleton in a crash near Eskdale is appealing her sentence. Photo/file

A Chinese woman jailed for killing a motorcyclist in a crash near Eskdale is appealing her sentence.

Jieling Xiao, 27, was sentenced to 17 months' imprisonment when she appeared in the Napier District Court in June.

She was disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay $10,000 in emotional harm reparation to the bereaved family of Tauranga man Rhys Middleton.

Mr Middleton was riding home with his dad Michael, brother Ryan and two others when he and a car being driven by Xiao, 27 collided on February 7.

Xiao had been heading the same way and other motorists told police her driving had been erratic before the crash. She then veered off the road to the left, before over-correcting sharply and collected Mr Middleton as he was attempting to overtake her. Mr Middleton was 23 when he died.

Ryan tried to save his younger brother while Michael was further ahead and did not know what had happened until he stopped in Taupo.

Naturally the family were upset Xiao was appealing the sentence.

Michael Middleton told Hawke's Bay Today that it felt like Xiao was reneging on her remorse she expressed during the sentencing.

"She said she would take any punishment she got but now she's appealed it. She's appealed her remorse."

Judge Bridget Mackintosh declined an application for home detention during sentencing in June.

She said Xiao had taken a risk in driving that day as she knew she was not competent to drive on New Zealand roads.

Judge Mackintosh said that if home detention had been granted, Xiao, having come to the end of her 12-month student status in New Zealand, could be deported in as little as 28 days, meaning the sentence would have had little effect.

Mr Middleton was concerned that if the appeal was successful Xiao could be deported without serving the sentence.

"You should sit there and do your time," he said.

A letter of apology and remorse from Xiao was read to the court.

In sentencing, Judge Mackintosh took into account the Xiao's co-operation, early plea, remorse and previous good character, deducting just over two years from the three years and six months starting point suggested by the Crown.

Her appeal will be heard in the High Court at Napier this week.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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