The sentencing of an American tourist who admitted causing the deaths of two Northland women in a car crash has been put off until next Saturday.

Thomas James Springer, 66, has pleaded guilty to two charges of careless driving causing the deaths of 29-year-old Ahipara woman Kylee Anne Rakich, who was eight months' pregnant with a daughter, and 44-year-old Whangarei woman Virginia Keogh.

He also admitted a charge of driving causing injury of the 21-year-old man who was driving the car carrying the two women.

The maximum penalty for the offences is three months' jail and/or a fine.


The 5-year old daughter of Ms Rakich was also injured in the crash on State Highway 10 at Puketona on April 30.

Springer was to have been sentenced on May 6 but Judge Davis adjourned that hearing until yesterday, before adjourning it for a second time because the restorative justice process had not got under way.

Judge Davis admitted it was an unusual move to schedule a court hearing for a Saturday but it was the only available time. Sentencing would not be put off again after that, however it was vital the victims' families were offered all the available pre-sentencing procedures, he said.

During Judge Davis' explanation of the process, which he delivered in te reo Maori and English, Springer sat impassively in the dock, without movement or expression.

He did not react when a woman - one of about 25 whanau members packing the public gallery - said a karakia, or prayer, and asked, "Lord, also show your mercy to this man standing in court."

He gave a short nod at one stage when the judge asked if he understood the significance of the proceedings.

Outside the court after the adjournment, Ms Rakich's sister Leash King told the Northern Advocate that her whanau wanted to ensure Springer went through the same justice process as anybody else who had admitted such crimes in New Zealand. About 10 members of the family were expected to attend the restorative justice meeting, she said.

Neville Radovanovich, the father of the late Ms Keogh, said he spoke with Springer at the first court appearance and his immediate family did not feel the need to take part in further processes. He said he just wanted the sentencing "over and done with".

During an earlier appearance it was revealed Springer needed to return to the United States before the end of the month for treatment for a brain tumour, although no evidence of his health status was presented to the court.