Actor James Rolleston has been told he was entitled to one mistake after causing a crash which seriously injured himself and another person last year.

Rolleston, 20, was sentenced in the Opotiki District Court today to 200 hours community work, 12 months supervision and disqualified for driving for a year for the crash which left him and his friend seriously injured last July.

Rolleston sustained serious leg and brain injuries in the July 20 crash on the outskirts of Opotiki. His passenger, one of his best friends, required spinal surgery after sustaining four fractured vertebrae.

Judge Louis Bidois summed up his sentencing by saying: "Everyone is entitled to make one mistake in their life, you have made yours."


Before his sentencing, the Boy and Goodbye Pork Pie actor looked nervous but was supported by a contingent of family and friends.

Seated next to his counsel, Ron Mansfield, Rolleston nodded when being addressed by Judge Bidois during the 30-minute sentencing.

Mansfield told the court today's appearance was as much a celebration of the continued life of two young men as it was an acknowledgment of Mr Rolleston's involvement in the accident.

"He knows that night he drove like an idiot. He drove with excessive speed for the road and the conditions. But to be frank, he's hopeless at being an idiot.

"He's had little practice in his life to date at being an idiot."

Mansfield, a senior criminal litgator with more than 25 years experience, also spoke in glowing terms about his client. "He's one of the nicest young men I have ever had the pleasure of acting for. He is ordinarily a polite, courteous, humble young man."

Police prosectuor Ian Dodds agreed a community-based sentence was appropriate but said the sentence should also act as a deterent to the high number of Bay of Plenty men who drove in such a manner.

Rolleston entered his guilty plea to a charge of dangerous driving causing injury at the Auckland District Court in March.

In a statement at the time, the then 19-year-old said he always intended to admit his actions as he was "genuinely regretful" that they caused the accident.

"I am especially regretful for the harm caused to my good friend who was in the car with me.

"I am grateful that we both survived and have the opportunity to make something of the lives we have ahead of us, despite the fact that I have a bit of recovery still ahead.

"Not everyone is that fortunate. I have learned to appreciate life a lot more and to be grateful for what I have," the actor said.

Court records showed Rolleston was driving at a speed considered "dangerous to the public" and caused injury to Kaleb Maxwell, who was a passenger in the vehicle, on July 26, 2016.

Rolleston was taken to Waikato Hospital's Intensive Care Unit where he remained for nearly a month.

Maxwell was also seriously injured in the crash.

The maximum penalties for a dangerous driving conviction were a $20,000 fine and five years in jail.