A Rotorua businessman has been charged with careless driving causing death, after a fatal crash on State Highway 5 last year.

Paul Brian Yerex, upholsterer, 63, of Rotorua was excused from appearing in front of a registrar at Rotorua District Court yesterday, but was represented by his lawyer Jonathan Temm.

Yerex faces three charges of careless driving causing injury and one of careless driving causing the death of Helen Knox, also known as Helen Veale, 49, of Otaki, on August 21 last year.

The three-car crash happened 5km south of Rotorua and left three other people in hospital.

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No plea was entered and Yerex will next appear in the Rotorua District Court on March 6.