Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Hit-and-run: 'A tragic day for all'

Harry Silcock leaves court after he pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run in which another young man died. Photo / Martin Hunter
Harry Silcock leaves court after he pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run in which another young man died. Photo / Martin Hunter

A young driver who hit a pedestrian, killing him instantly, before driving off narrowly avoided jail today in what a judge described as "a tragic day for all".

Harry Silcock, 18, overtook on double yellow lines before ploughing into two pedestrians in a late-night hit-and-run on a country road in Christchurch in September.

Sean Hutt, 20, died at the scene and Kyle Thomson, 17, suffered a broken leg.

Judge Jane Farish became visibly emotional as she recounted the effects the "catastrophe" had had on Mr Hutt's family, especially his twin brother Callum.

She fought back tears as she read a victim impact statement written by Callum to the convicted driver in the dock at Christchurch District Court today.

"I would like Harry Silcock to know that by taking Sean from us, he's taken half of who I am. I miss him all the time. Part of me is missing."

Although Silcock ignored a "fundamental of overtaking" by failing to check what was ahead before pulling out and then fled the scene, he was not put behind bars.

Judge Farish said jail would "do nothing" for the remorseful Silcock, and told the Hutt family that it would not "replace Mr Hutt".

Instead, by "a very narrow margin", she sentenced Silcock to 10 months' home detention, along with 250 hours of community work.

She also disqualified him from driving for two and a half years.

She ordered him to make two emotional harm repayments - one of $10,000 to Mr and Mrs Hutt and a further $5,000 to Mr Thompson, who is still on crutches and unable yet to return to work.

The Hutt family declined to comment outside court.

Earlier the court heard how a "huge void" had been left in their lives, and wondered if they would ever be able to come to terms with what happened at Shands Rd in Hornby about 10.20pm on Saturday, September 15.

Around 70 young car enthusiasts had gathered to socialise in the area that night.

Mr Hutt and Mr Thompson had barely left the grass verge when Silcock overtook another vehicle in his early model Toyota Starlet and hit the pair.

He skidded to a halt but then fled the scene.

The next day, he handed himself in to police.

Police initially thought Silcock had been racing another car when he hit Mr Hutt.

Silcock, a welder from Burnham, outside Christchurch, pleaded guilty in October to driving dangerously causing death, failing to stop and give assistance, and driving dangerously causing injury.

The courtroom was packed with friends and family members on both sides of the "tragic" incident today.

Silcock, in a dark suit and tie, nodded to the judge when she raised points but otherwise remained expressionless.

His lawyer James Rapley said his client had not been "hooning around" and was travelling at 92km/h in a 100km/h zone when the accident happened.

He said no one could have expected people to be on the side of the road when the overtaking manoeuvre, on double lines, took place shortly before an intersection.

"But nevertheless, he should've been prepared for any eventuality, and he wasn't."

The Silcock family's "concern and anguish" for the Hutt family was real and genuine, he said.

"They realise it could easily have been the other way around," Mr Rapley said, adding that Silcock now had to live with the consequences and "enormity" of having taken someone's life.


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