The man who hit and killed a horse and severely injured its rider has received a guilty verdict in the North Shore District Court today.
Peng Wang, a 28-year-old Chinese national, was found guilty of careless driving causing injury. He will be sentenced in April.
Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford was hit by Wang's car while riding her daughter's horse Curious George last August.
Rutherford and her 13-year-old daughter Ella were riding on Postman Rd in Dairy Flat, north of Auckland, when Wang's people mover hit the horse, throwing the journalist into his windscreen and then into a ditch.
The 44-year-old's leg catapulted into her head, the force of which tore the skin and tissue away from the muscle, almost ripping off her leg.
Her injuries were so severe a surgeon could put his whole hand in her leg, which was broken in multiple places, as well as bones in her feet and toes.
Curious George had to be euthanised due to his injuries.
"We were always confident of a guilty verdict because the police said it was an open-and-shut case," Rutherford said. "He showed blatant disregard for the law in driving straight into us at speed, never wavering or moving away to give space or slowing down."
But the sentence is a "fairly shallow victory", she added.
"George is gone, dead, taken from us."
Wang gave evidence through a translator today at the second day of a judge-only trial before Judge Jonathan Down.
Wang said in court that he slowed down to 45km/h and moved so his right wheel was on the centre line - as far to the right as he felt safe driving because another vehicle was coming in the opposite direction.
"I tried my best to give room to them."
Both horses and their riders were on the centre-line side of the white line on the side of the road. Immediately off the road was a ditch.
He passed Ella - who Rutherford said had yelled and waved her arm warning Wang to slow down and move over - and her horse Chico first. The teen earlier told the court she felt the vehicle brush her whip.
However, Wang denied those claims. He said he gave Rutherford's horse about 50cm of space as well but it turned and reared up into the people mover.
"It wasn't me that crashed into it. It turned and hit my car."
Earlier Wang told police prosecutor Mark Hagan he had not studied the New Zealand road rules before driving in New Zealand.
Rutherford has called the accident an "avoidable tragedy". She told the Herald she now plans to put pressure on the Government to change the law to account for cumulative time driving in New Zealand.
Following the accident she also put her weight behind a petition calling for safer rules around horses on roads, including limiting speed to 20km when passing a horse and letting riders use footpaths and grass verges.
The petition would also make it a legal offence to hit or kill a horse that is being ridden. It has received more than 4,000 signatures.