Tourist driver pleads guilty to death of Dunedin man

By Timothy Brown

Riley Baker died in Dunedin Hospital two days after the crash. Photo / Supplied
Riley Baker died in Dunedin Hospital two days after the crash. Photo / Supplied

Chinese national Limin Ma has admitted causing the death of Dunedin man Riley Baker in a head-on crash when he crossed the centre line to view the ocean.

Ma (41) pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Ma crossed the centre line on State Highway 1, near Shag Point, and smashed into Mr Barker's oncoming motorcycle on August 13.

Mr Barker died in Dunedin Hospital two days later.

The charge Ma is facing carries a maximum sentence of three months' imprisonment and a fine of $4500.

Judge John Macdonald convicted Ma and remanded him on bail for sentencing on September 7.

Police earlier indicated Ma might face another charge in relation to the crash.

A police spokesman yesterday said inquiries into the matter were ongoing.

Prosecutor Sergeant Adrian Cheyne said the fatal crash occurred when Ma, who was travelling north with his partner and son, attempted to pull into a rest area on the other side of the road to ''have a view of the ocean''.

Just before the crash, Mr Baker, who was travelling south, had overtaken a car in a marked passing lane a few hundred metres from the scene.

''The defendant has failed to see the victim and other traffic travelling south,'' Sgt Cheyne said.

''The victim was thrown over the motorcycle, over the handlebars and into the windscreen [of Ma's vehicle].''

The road was dry, the weather was fine and visibility was good.

Limin Ma leaves the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Riley Baker. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Limin Ma leaves the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Riley Baker. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Mr Baker suffered extensive injuries, including a critical head injury, Sgt Cheyne said.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens said Ma had no criminal history, in China or abroad, and had a clean driving record.

''Community work has been looked at [as a sentence] and reparation,'' she said.

''Reparation can be looked at during restorative justice if that can proceed.''

Judge Macdonald imposed bail conditions preventing Ma from driving and ordered him to surrender his passport.

Mr Baker's death followed that of Motueka motorcyclist Craig Chambers in November.

Mr Chambers also died on State Highway 1, about 20km north of where Mr Baker died.

On that occasion Singaporean tourist Wei Kiong Lew crossed double yellow lines into the path of oncoming traffic.

Mr Chambers attempted to avoid Lew's car but was struck by the vehicle.

Lew was last month sentenced to four months' home detention, 200 hours' community work and ordered to pay reparation of $27,000.

In February last year, 5-year-old Oamaru girl Ruby Marris died when Chinese tourist Jing Cao crossed the centre line on State Highway 1, about 10km north of where Mr Baker died, and smashed into the Marris family's station wagon.

Ruby died at the scene and her parents suffered serious injuries.

The Marris' two other children, Georgia (9) and Sophie (7), suffered moderate injuries and Cao's mother, a passenger in his rented vehicle, also suffered serious injuries.

Cao was jailed for 18 months last June, but appealed the sentence in the High Court.

His case was dismissed last August, but he appealed to the Court of Appeal.

A Court of Appeal spokesman yesterday confirmed Cao had abandoned the appeal in November.

Cao was due for release earlier this year.

- Otago Daily Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 04 Dec 2016 17:12:21 Processing Time: 580ms