Disqualified father 'had to see his son'

By Westport News staff

Police and paramedics at the scene where Mahuri Bettjeman-Manawatu was run over and killed by a school bus. Photo / Keira Stephenson
Police and paramedics at the scene where Mahuri Bettjeman-Manawatu was run over and killed by a school bus. Photo / Keira Stephenson

The father of the 5-year-old boy killed by a bus on the West Coast in August ignored his driving disqualification to go to a cemetery and sit at his son's grave, a court has been told.

James Victor Manawatu of Hector appeared in Westport District Court today charged with driving while disqualified after he was pulled over Kekerengu southeast of Blenheim on August 30.

Manawatu's lawyer Doug Taffs told the court Manawatu's son Mahuri Bettjeman-Manawatu was run over and killed by a school bus on August 21, nine days before the driving offence.

His funeral had been held in Kaikoura two days before Manawatu was pulled over.

On the day of the offending, Manawatu simply ``had to go and see his son'', Mr Taffs said.

He drove to Kaikoura and went up the hill to sit with his son. On his return he was apprehended.

As Manawatu cried in the dock, Mr Taffs urged Judge Chris Somerville to be as imaginative and compassionate as he could with his sentence.

Judge Somerville said Mr Taffs had failed to mention the offending happened just two days before Manawatu was due to get his licence back.

Manawatu was convicted and discharged and had his licence disqualified for six months starting today.

Judge Somerville said he was required to impose the disqualification.

Mahuri was killed by the school bus that had just dropped him off in his street in Hector, north of Westport, at 3.10pm on August 21.

A number of children, including his older brother, witnessed the accident.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Oct 2014 20:14:22 Processing Time: 341ms