Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Hit-and-run witness slams judge

Giampiero De Falco was watching from his nearby restaurant when Guy Hallwright ran over Sung Jin Kim. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Giampiero De Falco was watching from his nearby restaurant when Guy Hallwright ran over Sung Jin Kim. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A witness who saw a man run over after a road-rage incident is outraged by the comments of a judge and the sentence imposed on the offending driver.

Giampiero De Falco contacted the Weekend Herald after reading the comments of Auckland District Court Judge Raoul Neave in sentencing Guy Hallwright.

Mr De Falco, who comforted Sung Jin Kim after he was run over, said the sentence and justifications for it were infuriating.

"He [Mr Kim] was screaming. I was in it until the ambulance came. I was there from the beginning until the end," said Mr De Falco.

"It's inappropriate. And the sentencing is a joke. If it's not hit-and-run, what the hell is it?"

On Thursday, Judge Neave sentenced Hallwright to 250 hours' community work, banned him from driving for 18 months and ordered him to pay $20,000 reparations to Mr Kim.

The 60-year-old investment banker ran over Mr Kim after an altercation on Mt Eden Rd in September 2010.

Mr Kim has since had several operations on two badly broken legs and a shattered ankle, and says he is still in pain and has difficulty walking.

In sentencing Hallwright, Judge Neave praised his "impeccable character" and said he had suffered humiliation out of all proportion to his crime.

The judge also criticised the media for taking a perverse and "vulgar" glee in the charges against Hallwright, who was represented by Queen's Counsel Paul Davison.

"What I know of your character ... I consider it highly unlikely you would have driven at him," Judge Neave told Hallwright.

He 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.

"[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.

Hallwright drove off and later called police and returned to the scene after they asked him to.

But yesterday, Mr De Falco, a key court witness, labelled the judge's comments offensive and ridiculous.

"A hit-and-run is when you run somebody over and then you do not stop the car, and leave the scene. And that's exactly what [Hallwright]'s done."

Mr De Falco said he was in his Mt Eden Rd pizza restaurant when he saw Hallwright knock Mr Kim over and then speed away.

"I think [Judge Neave] really overstepped the mark in his comments. [Hallwright's] position in society had absolutely nothing to do with what he did.

"[Judge Neave] calls this guy a pillar of society. A pillar of society is ... someone who has done something for society. What the hell has this guy done for society?

"I resent feeling like somebody who didn't really know what they were saying, or didn't really know what they were seeing."

Hallwright, a Forsyth Barr senior market analyst, was found guilty by a jury in June of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard.

He was driving his 18-year-old daughter to an appointment when he and Mr Kim got into an argument.

At the trial, Hallwright's daughter said that after being tooted at by Mr Kim, her father drove into a carpark near Galbraith's Alehouse.

She said her father approached Mr Kim's car, had words and then shut his door, before Mr Kim came to their vehicle and slammed his hands on the bonnet. Her father drove away, running over Mr Kim in the process.

After the sentencing, prosecutor Ross Burns said it was unlikely the Crown would appeal against thesentence.

Mr Kim said he would consider lodging an appeal, and West Auckland lawyer Dr Michael Kidd has offered his services free of charge.

- NZ Herald

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