Rich-lister worth $150 million admits responsibility over car crash

Michael Reid, left, leaves the Auckland District Court with his defence lawyer Kevin McDonald. Photo: Jason Oxenham
Michael Reid, left, leaves the Auckland District Court with his defence lawyer Kevin McDonald. Photo: Jason Oxenham

A rich-lister reportedly worth $150 million has admitted responsibility over a car crash after police dropped one of his charges.

But the bill for about $6500 isn't likely to break the bank.

Businessman Michael John Reid, 60, previously denied charges of careless driving and failing to stop after a non-injury crash and was due to go to trial before Auckland District Court today.

However, after discussions between police and his lawyer Kevin McDonald, the prosecution agreed to drop the latter charge, which carried a potential jail term of up to three months.

Reid, who runs investment company Union Pacific Corporation (UPC), admitted driving carelessly on St Heliers Bay Rd on November 27 when he crashed his Range Rover into the back of Bryn Payne's Suzuki Swift at traffic lights.

Bryn Payne (pictured) received reparation of more than $6000 from Michael Reid. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Bryn Payne (pictured) received reparation of more than $6000 from Michael Reid. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Mr Payne said "there was a bit of road rage" as the pair overtook one another beforehand while heading westbound on the east Auckland road.

A police summary of facts read in court stated that Reid smashed into the back of the victim's car as they prepared to stop for a red light, forcing it into the middle of the intersection.

But Mr Payne reckoned they had been stationary for about 20 seconds before the multi-millionaire ploughed into his rear and then took off.

He only discovered police were dropping the more serious charge when he came to court today and was not impressed with their decision.

"It's bull****," Mr Payne said.

But Judge Heemi Taumaunu described the police's decision as "a realistic assessment of the circumstances of the case".

The two witnesses the police were to call were going to give conflicting statements, the court heard.

One would say Mr Payne was the driver of the Suzuki, the other was going to give evidence it was a younger man.

Defence counsel Mr McDonald said Reid was adamant the car he hit was full driven by a young man and he only left the scene because of their "threatening behaviour".

Mr Payne rejected that assertion.

Judge Taumaunu assessed the rich-lister's offending as at the lower end of the scale but noted he had another identical conviction from 1992.

The consequences for the victims could also have been more serious, he said.

"I don't lose sight of the fact the victim was concerned about the potential danger that he and the occupants of his vehicle were exposed to by being shunted into the intersection."

Judge Taumaunu fined Reid $300; ordered him to pay court costs, reparation of $5238 for damage to Mr Payne's vehicle and $1000 for emotional harm.

The scene of the accident was just a couple of kilometres from the clifftop mansion Reid shares with his wife Pauline on the upmarket Hanene St in the affluent suburb of St Heliers.

According to QV, the five-bedroom property, which sits above Tamaki Drive and overlooks Rangitoto Island, has a capital value of $15.5 million.

The National Business Review's 2015 Rich List estimated Reid's wealth at $150 million, putting him well within the country's top 100.

His company UPC bought Marac Finance in 1993, selling it seven years later to Pyne Gould Corporation for $41 million.

Reid refused to comment on the incident.

- NZ Herald

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