Giggling woman gave 'chilling' evidence

Jessica Anne Gooch giggled during her testimony. Photo / AP
Jessica Anne Gooch giggled during her testimony. Photo / AP

A 24-year-old woman has been found responsible for a fatal crash on Forbury Rd, Dunedin, a year ago.

Jessica Anne Gooch, checkout operator, had denied causing the death of Daniel John Wadsworth by driving carelessly on December 1.

Mr Wadsworth was fatally injured when his Harley Davidson motorcycle collided with the defendant's Ford Mondeo which was making a right turn from Forbury Rd into Sandringham St just before 9pm.

Giving his decision on the case which he heard in the Dunedin District Court earlier this month, Judge Michael Crosbie said that, on the evidence he had heard, he believed the police would have been justified in laying a charge of dangerous driving causing death against Gooch.

The young woman's attitude towards the matter needed to change, he said. He found aspects of the way she had given her evidence "chilling".

She was giggling at various times during her testimony and he did not put that down to nervousness, the judge said.

Gooch needed to consider some issues of responsibility concerning her driving. A person's life had been lost.

The judge said he found the charge had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. He told prosecutor Sergeant Ross Hutton and defence counsel Campbell Savage he would give written reasons for his decision before sentencing Gooch early next year.

Convicting the defendant, he asked for a pre-sentence report and one considering an electronically monitored sentence.

Judge Crosbie also said he wanted the possibility of restorative justice investigated.

Evidence at the defended hearing was that Gooch had anticipated a right turn into Sandringham St and had crossed the centre line into the lane of the oncoming motorcyclist who, witnesses said, was travelling at excessive speed.

Gooch failed to see him, her description being he had come "out of nowhere".

The motorcycle hit the left front corner of the Ford and was thrown into the air.

Mr Wadsworth went over the car and was catapulted more than 8m along Forbury Rd. He died at the scene.

- Otago Daily Times

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