A judge has dismissed an appeal from the driver of a tourist bus that crashed near Queenstown, causing a girl and woman to lose limbs.
Chinese national Liang Fang had appealed his sentence in the High Court at Invercargill, stating a refused discharge without a conviction could affect his visa.
Fang was driving a bus and trailer operated by Awing Travel NZ Ltd and carrying 23 Chinese tourists when it crashed at Wilson Bay, 10km from Queenstown, on January 21 this year.
A 10-year-old girl lost both hands and a woman lost an arm as a result of the crash on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd.
Fang admitted charges of careless driving causing injury and was sentenced in June by Judge John Strettell in the Queenstown District Court.
At the time, he was refused a discharge without conviction.
Fang's defence lawyer Grant Tyrrell submitted this week that the district court judge erred in his assessment of the seriousness of the offending.
He also said the consequences for Fang were sufficiently severe as he was asked by Immigration New Zealand to leave the country.
Justice Dunningham acknowledged in her decision the serious consequence that a deportation would have. However, for "a single man, with family back in China", she did not see the impact of returning to his country being "as great as in some other cases".
She said Fang's carelessness in the face of the significant responsibility of driving a tour bus was relatively serious.
"I accept that the consequences of conviction for him are likely to go beyond that of other offenders. I also accept that this was an offence of carelessness rather than deliberate wrongdoing.
"While the consequences for Mr Fang will be harsh compared with other offenders, I do not consider that they are out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending. "
After Fang's sentencing, the parents of the 10-year-old girl who lost her hands said it was an insult.
The girl's father told the Weekend Herald the sentence was unfair - and says he was only told about it in an email from police.
"The pain and trauma that we are going through is unimaginable. It is worst for Joanna, but the whole family - myself, my wife and even her grandparents in China - are living every day in pain," said the father, who cannot be named as his daughter has statutory name suppression.
"I feel that New Zealand's justice system has failed us. The reparation payment adds insult to injury and the penalty faced by the driver shows there is no justice."
The girl's mother remembers vividly the day of the crash, on January 21. The Awing Travel NZ Ltd bus and trailer tipped to its side and skidded for about 40m after Fang lost control near Queenstown.
Twenty-three people were on board, including the driver, and 20 were treated for injuries by St John staff at Wilson Bay, on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd.
"(My daughter) was on the ground and I rushed to her. My mind went blank when I picked her up and noticed that she didn't have her arms," the mother said.
When the Weekend Herald visited the Auckland serviced apartment where the family was staying, the child was afraid to come out of her bedroom.
The mother said her daughter's confidence and sense of security were shattered and the once-extroverted girl was now afraid of seeing people.
"(She) loves dancing, she's won many prizes in dancing competitions, now she can't feed herself, dress herself or even clean herself after a bathroom visit," she said.
"Dancing is the love of her life, and in that one moment of the crash, everything is taken away from her," she added.
"The reparation money, I'll gladly give back every cent and fork out many times that, if (my daughter) can get her arms back."
- Additional reporting, Lincoln Tan