Cyclist Garth Barfoot bonds with driver who hit him

By Jimmy Ellingham, Sophie Ryan

Businessman waives $11,000 reparation, saying cash better used for woman's children.

Louise Tawhai got to meet cyclist Garth Barfoot at a restorative justice session. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Louise Tawhai got to meet cyclist Garth Barfoot at a restorative justice session. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The driver who knocked Garth Barfoot from his bicycle has been disqualified from driving for six months, but won't be out of pocket after the businessman asked the court to waive $11,000 in reparation.

Care worker Louise Tawhai, 45, pleaded guilty to one charge of careless driving causing injury and was sentenced yesterday in the North Shore District Court by Community Magistrate Dianne Hale.

Mr Barfoot, a director of real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson, suffered a broken femur and needed an emergency hip replacement operation after the crash at the intersection of Beach Haven and Birkdale Rds in Auckland in January.

Garth Barfoot
Garth Barfoot

The veteran triathlete had right of way at the roundabout and Tawhai told APNZ last month that she did not see him on the road.

Mr Barfoot was not at the sentencing, but met Tawhai at a restorative justice session.

"I said to her, 'Don't worry about any [reparation] money. It's more important to look after your children,"' he said afterwards.

"She didn't see me. It was a moment's inattention. I guess it could have happened to me."

Tawhai had offered to do work around Mr Barfoot's home instead, an offer he also turned down.

During sentencing yesterday, Ms Hale said the restorative justice session had been positive for both parties.

"You've obviously formed a bond and he would be a good mentor for you," she said. "He has indicated he would waive the reparations, and I think that is an acknowledgement of the concern you had for him."

After the sentencing, Tawhai said she believed she would maintain a connection with Mr Barfoot.

She said she still struggled with what happened but felt privileged to have met Mr Barfoot, even under the bad circumstances.

- APNZ

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