A young woman who crashed her car into a pond - causing serious injuries to her passengers - has been sentenced to supervision, community work and ordered to pay hundreds in emotional harm reparation.
April Henrietta Atkins-Keen, 20, appeared for sentencing in the Hastings District Court yesterday after she lost control of a speeding car that careered down a bank and came to rest upside down in a pond.
She was driving her former boyfriend, his sister and a friend along State Highway 2 at about 12.30am Sunday, April 30 when she hit a downhill slope just before Te Aute Hotel at an estimated speed of 130km/h.
She lost control of the car which crashed down a bank and into a pond about 40m from the road; landing upside down and partially submerged in the water.
The road was wet from heavy rainfall and the area dark with no streetlights. The posted speed limit was 100km/h.
All four occupants managed to get out of the vehicle and to the edge of the pond where one flagged down a passing motorist who called emergency services.
One of the victims had three fractures to her back, one to her neck, and concussion. She spent one week in hospital and a further six weeks in a neck and back brace.
Another victim sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lower back injury which resulted in some bones eventually cracking. The ex-boyfriend had a large cut to his wrist which became infected and required antibiotics.
Atkins-Keen was charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing injury and pleaded guilty to all charges last month.
In his submissions yesterday defence lawyer Cameron Willis asked that the three charges be amended to one representative charge, with concerns future employers would see three convictions on her record.
He said this was not to diminish what had happened but to reflect the fact that they had derived from a single incident.
However police prosecutor Sergeant Amber Thompson said the crash resulted in three charges to reflect the three victims involved and Judge Max Courtney accepted this.
"Obviously it could have much more serious consequences than it did," the sergeant said.
The judge said he had actually driven past the car wreck, which sat in the pond for some weeks, and wondered whether anyone had survived.
"It is extremely lucky that none of the four of you were killed as a result of that," he said.
Victim impact statements said the passengers had mostly recovered from their injuries but were now anxious when travelling in vehicles.
One victim said they only felt safe in a car when their mother was driving and another said they worried whenever a car's speed exceeded 80km/h and always told people to slow down.
"I suppose if a positive can come out of something like this it's that you and the victims realise the dangers of driving at that speed," Judge Courtney said.
Mr Willis said Atkins-Keen, who was injured herself, preferred a sentence of community detention over emotional harm reparation due to personal consequences of the crash.
Judge Courtney later noted there had been some "unwarranted" and "unfortunate" responses to the crash on social media and that a restorative justice conference did not take place.
"She's got nightmares out of this and I suspect the victims have suffered similarly," Mr Willis said.
The judge said the defendant's fatigue, speed and the roading conditions were "a recipe for disaster" but accepted she was genuinely remorseful.
The court heard she had recently started a new job and had an 18-month-old child whom she cared for because her partner was in the army and lived remotely.
Judge Courtney sentenced her to nine months' supervision with special conditions, 80 hours' community work, disqualified her from driving for one year and ordered she pay a total of $200 reparation to each of the three victims.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing injury is five years' imprisonment, 12 months' disqualification or a $20,000 fine.