A driver who sent his car careening over the edge of the fifth storey of a Newmarket car parking building had been leaning over to give his girlfriend a kiss.
Simon Hartnoll has been charged with careless driving causing injury after he and his girlfriend at the time were badly injured in the incident in March last year.
Hartnoll appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning for the second day of a two-day judge-alone trial.
The court heard yesterday that Hartnoll had stopped his car and put the handbrake on but left the gear in drive while pausing to give his girlfriend a kiss.
They had recently had dinner and intended to go ten pin bowling, the court heard.
While leaning over inside the car, Hartnoll hit the accelerator pedal, causing the car to lurch forward and crash through a barrier, plunging to the street below.
A witness who lived in an apartment building across from where the incident occurred described seeing the car "sort of fly off" the side of the building.
Sarah Woodhams told the court she had been taking her make up off and gazing at the city skyline when the car's speeding lights caught her attention.
"I've never seen anything like it before, it was so quick and it really grabbed my attention," she said.
"It shot across and went through the barrier."
Woodhams lost sight of the car and didn't see it hit a parked Nissan below, narrowly missing two women who were inside it at the time.
Hartnoll, who was 39, suffered rib and clavicle fractures and spine injuries and his former girlfriend, who was 30, suffered serious head injuries.
A police witness told the court yesterday the car being left in drive was the primary cause of the crash, but today the defence suggested the car parking building's fencing was not up to scratch.
The York St car park adhered to building code requirements when it was built but not to recent updates in the building code.
Auckland Council was not tasked with nor able to enforce requirements to ensure buildings were up to current building compliance codes, only that they met the code requirements at the time they were built, the court heard.
Hartnoll's lawyer Alistair Haskett said he believed the car parking building's outer fencing had met requirements for pedestrian safety, but there was nowhere in council reports which indicated the fencing was strong enough to withstand the force of a vehicle.
In 2002 building requirements around car parking building barriers and the amount of force they could withstand were updated to try to prevent cars from going through barriers, the court was told.
Following Hartnoll's accident last year, police witness and senior compliance adviser for Auckland Council William Smeed said it had been arranged for several other car parking buildings in the city to be inspected.
"Since this accident, the council is putting in place a regime of upgrading their car parks. I am aware the council is concerned about their car park fencing."
New technology, like automatic stop and start driving were also a factor in this decision, he said.
The council had also raised the issue with central government and was in the process of ensuring car parks were at a higher standard than when they were built, he said.
Haskett argued this meant the council was not happy with the standard of the car park at the time of the accident, but Smeed said this was not necessarily the case.
"At the time the building was built maybe the standard wasn't good enough," he told the court.
This did not mean the car park was a dangerous building because building codes related to structural integrity, he said.
While the building standards had improved since the York St car park was built, it was still the actions of the driver which were most important, he said.