A Rotorua surgeon, who fatally injured an elderly woman when she knocked her off her scooter, is appealing her sentence and conviction.

Dr Blaithin Patricia Page was convicted of careless driving causing death in May, after colliding with elderly motor scooter rider and award-winning community devotee Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan, 87, in September last year.

Judge Tony Snell sentenced Page to 100 hours' community work, ordered her to pay $5000 for emotional harm and disqualified her from driving for 15 months.

The crash happened on September 25 at 7.25am when Page was on her way to work at Rotorua Hospital.


She pulled out from the give way sign at the T-intersection of Arawa and Rangiuru Sts.

Page didn't see Hawkes-Buchanan, despite her bright helmet and scooter, and headlight shining.

Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan was a Christmas Day Community Lunch volunteer. Photo / File
Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan was a Christmas Day Community Lunch volunteer. Photo / File

Hawkes-Buchanan was knocked off her scooter and slid across the road.

Page tried to help but Hawkes-Buchanan died later that day from internal bleeding.

In the High Court at Rotorua this afternoon, Page's lawyer Andrew Schulze challenged Judge Snell's assessments of the gravity of the offending and the consequences for Page.

He said "it was a low-impact crash" and that Hawkes-Buchanan had the sun behind when she rode along the street from the east.

Page is Irish and worked in Scotland before coming to New Zealand on a work visa.

She hopes to get citizenship.


The court heard that since Page's sentencing, the Medical Council of New Zealand had opened an investigation, saying the case had brought the profession into disrepute.

Justice Ailsa Duffy sought more information about whether Page would still be able to practise in the United Kingdom with a New Zealand conviction if she was not granted residency or citizenship here.

"Trying to explain a conviction in one country to another country is never easy," she said.

Justice Duffy adjourned the appeal, "part heard" until September 2.

At Page's sentencing, Sam Hawkes said the "normal day turned into a nightmare" when his grandmother was hit.

Judge Snell described how Hawkes-Buchanan "was a supportive mother, a supportive grandmother, a staunch member of the Catholic Church and was involved in 50 years of community service".

She volunteered with groups ranging from the RSA to the Red Cross.

After the May sentencing, John Hawkes said he was happy with the outcome, and that his mother was a forgiving woman but "was also a strident advocate for doing what was right and seeing that justice was fairly applied".