An investment banker has been sentenced to 250 hours' community work for breaking the legs of a man he ran over - a sentence his victim cannot believe.
"Why no jail? I don't understand. I don't understand," Sung Jin Kim said when he learned of the sentence given to Forsyth Barr senior market analyst Guy Hallwright yesterday.
As well as the community work and an 18-month ban from driving, Hallwright was also ordered to pay Mr Kim $20,000 reparation.
"$20,000, that's it?" his victim said yesterday.
Mr Kim still hobbles, two years after he was run over by Hallwright on Mt Eden Rd.
His lower legs are swollen, bruised and scarred and he winced as he slowly lowered himself to sit on the steps of the South Auckland warehouse he calls home.
He said the surgery on his legs - he would probably need six operations in total - would cost about $150,000.
Hallwright was found guilty by a jury in June of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard over the incident in September 2010 in which he hit Mr Kim with his Saab.
He drove off, but later called police about the crash.
Hallwright had been taking his daughter to an appointment when he and Mr Kim got into an argument in their cars. Mr Kim got out of his vehicle and banged on Hallwright's bonnet before he was hit.
In Auckland District Court yesterday, Judge Raoul Neave criticised the media for referring to the offence as a hit-and-run, saying Hallwright was driving "away" from the situation, which had been escalated in seriousness by Mr Kim banging on the bonnet.
"What I know of your character ... I consider it highly unlikely you would have driven at him," Judge Neave told Hallwright.
He said describing the incident as a hit-and-run was "irresponsible and inappropriate".
"[Mr Kim] has gone under the wheels of your car, you've driven over him before carrying on with your manoeuvre [of pulling back on to the road]," Judge Neave said.
He told Hallwright he was a contributor to society with a "spotless reputation" and "impeccable character" but he did not want it to be thought that he was overlooking the "very serious" effects on Mr Kim.
"[It caused] very significant and severe injuries to Mr Kim ... though it goes without saying you never sought out to cause those injuries."
Judge Neave said the reparation represented Hallwright's remorse and was not a loophole of the legal system that allowed rich people to buy their way out of more serious sentences.
Hallwright's employer, Forsyth Barr, felt he had brought the company into disrepute as a result of media coverage of the trial, and the judge criticised the media's "prurient" interest in the case as "vulgar in the extreme".
The media had "seized upon and reported for no reason other than a desire to take an unhealthy degree of glee" from someone of Hallwright's esteem being on trial in a criminal court. "The Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude."
Associate Professor Bill Hodge of the University of Auckland law faculty said he had no sympathy for Hallwright over the publicity surrounding the case.
"I don't think the judge is on target when he criticises the media for featuring the person's position in society or profession ... I suspect someone who wasn't a merchant banker wouldn't have quite got the same consideration."
Prosecutor Ross Burns said it was unlikely the Crown would appeal against the sentence.
Mr Kim said he would consider appealing against the sentence but was unsure how to go about it.
- Additional reporting: Harry Pearl