The mother of two children who were killed in a crash on the Desert Rd on Good Friday last year has called an expression of remorse by the driver who caused it "too little, too late".
John Baptiste Barber appeared in the Taupō District Court today for sentencing on two charges of careless driving causing the deaths of 2-month-old Radeen Mosaferi and Arteen Mosaferi, 4, and careless driving causing injury to parents Siamak Mosaferi and Dr Mohadeseh Sharifi, on March 30 last year. Barber was also convicted on four logbook offences.
Judge Maree MacKenzie sentenced him to three months' community detention, 150 hours of community work, disqualified him from driving for 12 months and ordered him to pay $5000 for emotional harm.
Barber was driving his truck south on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, and was following a Toyota that contained the Mosaferi family.
When the line of traffic came to an unexpected halt, Barber failed to stop and collided with the Toyota, shunting it forward into the rear of a trailer and another vehicle in front of them.
Arteen died on impact and Radeen died in Starship Hospital. Siamak Mosaferi suffered moderate injuries and was in hospital for two days.
Sharifi was critically injured, spent 23 days in hospital and is suffering ongoing effects. A recent MRI scan showed her brain injury was more serious than initially thought.
The couple have a new baby, which the judge said in her sentencing comments had brought hope into their lives but their continuing physical and emotional issues about the crash also affected their care of the baby.
Barber's lawyer Peter Brosnahan said Barber had asked him to extend his genuine apologies and remorse for the tragedy to the family, who were not present in the courtroom but watched via video link from Hamilton.
"He wanted to take this opportunity through me to express his sorrow and remorse and anguish at the pain that he will have caused the family."
Brosnahan also submitted that Barber was not fatigued at the time of the crash, having taken a break in Turangi, although the length of the break was disputed by police. He said Barber had failed to see the traffic braking ahead until it was too late.
But Dr Sharifi told the judge that the couple did not accept that Barber was genuinely remorseful. She said he had made no attempt to contact the family or to understand what they were going through.
"Remorse I think is something that comes from the heart and is a personal decision he could have made. But we never heard anything, absolutely anything.
"He saw us on the trial date and absolutely no emotion came from him all the time that I talked about what we were going through, there was no emotion, no remorse."
She was also angry that Barber had failed to take his rest breaks in the lead up to the accident and had falsified the log book.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Martin McGahey said the logbook offences of failing to take the proper rest breaks were aggravating factors.
"This is serious and becoming a problem on our roads and probably this is the time to send a message out to these so-called professional drivers that if you don't comply with your mandated rest times and falsify log books and if something tragic happens like in this incident, you can expect to go for a skate."
Judge MacKenzie assessed the level of culpability as towards the high end of carelessness and said the sentence needed to act as a deterrent to this type of careless driving, particularly by a professional driver who had failed to comply with his obligations and had dropped below the standard of care required.