A man whose mother was killed and toddler niece injured when he lost control of his van near Trafford's Hill north of Gisborne last year, has been sentenced in Gisborne District Court.

The case was one of the most difficult to sentence, Judge Tony Adeane said.

Harjinder Singh, 43, chef, changed previous not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to charges of careless use causing injury and careless use causing death.

Judge Adeane said the outcome had been "carefully thought out" and agreed after discussion in chambers between counsel and police.


Singh was convicted and discharged on payment of costs of $500 and $3000 to the injured child. Other than the minimum mandatory six months' disqualification from driving, there was no further penalty.

The accident was "truly sad", the judge said.

Singh was driving in difficult road conditions with his mother, who was visiting from India, and his three-year-old niece, who was not properly restrained.

He lost control of his van, which rolled at about 40km/h. His mother died at the scene. The injured little girl was flown to Auckland's Starship Hospital.

"The consequence of a minor omission led to the magnitude of what we see here."

The maximum penalty of three months imprisonment was indicative that the law understood such things happened occasionally -- even when the driver's fault was very minor, Judge Adeane said.