Sentence delay as police assess cyclist's injuries

By Rachel Tiffen

Jennifer Speakman, leaving court with a supporter yesterday, has apologised to her victims. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Jennifer Speakman, leaving court with a supporter yesterday, has apologised to her victims. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The student who admitted ploughing into a group of cyclists on Auckland's Tamaki Drive yesterday said she was deeply sorry, and will have to wait months to learn her sentence.

Police have asked to delay sentencing for Jennifer Speakman, 20, to better assess the recovery of the most seriously injured cyclist - Auckland engineer Greg Paterson.

"Greg is not in a position to give a full written statement or account of the incident yet," said Auckland crash analyst Constable Mark Rodgers.

Mr Paterson suffered serious brain injuries and is in a head injury rehabilitation centre in West Auckland. Three others were hurt.

Speakman, who yesterday pleaded guilty to four charges of careless driving causing injury in relation to the September 26 crash, was remanded at large until February.

The maximum penalty she faces is three months' imprisonment or a $4500 fine and a minimum of six months disqualification from driving.

Mr Rodgers confirmed the student's previous driving offences would be considered at sentencing, but said: "I don't think it would be fair to disclose what, when and how."

But her motoring history includes at least one speeding ticket - received six days before the crash - which Speakman admitted to on her Facebook page.

"Hmph another speeding ticket ... $80 so not toooo bad," she wrote.

John Carter, spokesman for the Pickled Pedallers social cycle group, preferred not to comment while the case was before the court, but their website said Mr Paterson had "progressed enormously" in the past month.

"He is able to walk around on his own and his sense of humour is just about back to old," a member posted.

"Short-term memory is still not the best but there has been a great improvement, although there is still some way to go in all respects. He is aware he has been in an accident but has no memory of it."

In the Auckland District Court yesterday, Speakman's lawyer Frank Hogan relayed his client's regret for the accident.

"She would like to express her profound sorrow and deepest apology for failing to observe the cyclists that morning," he said.

Surrounded by family and under the arm of her partner, Speakman sat motionless in the gallery, her eyes frequently downcast.

When the Herald visited the Speakman home mother Janet answered the door and said her daughter's refusal to comment was "deliberate".

In court Judge Thomas Everitt noted Speakman's apology.

Meanwhile, a safety forum formed by the Auckland City Council's transport committee after the Tamaki Drive reignited the debate over road user rights will meet for the second time tomorrow.

Cycle Action co-leader Barbara Cuthbert, who attended court yesterday, said: "We simply can't let this carry on."

"I think if it was a one-off incident I would feel differently, but what we are talking about is a serious level of injuring and maiming on a major city road."

- NZ Herald

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