$15,000 payment ordered from tourist crash driver

March 24, 2015 | By More

Court House-Sept-2013-06A German tourist who killed a Leeston woman when he drove through a stop sign has been ordered to pay $15,000 in emotional harm reparations to the children of his victim.

He was also disqualified from driving for nine months, two days before he leaves to return to Germany. He will have to pay the reparations before he can fly out.

The judge noted at the sentencing that the driver, Daniel Muller, was of good character and was “devastated” by the offending which led to the fatal crash.

Muller, 26, described in court as a master cabinet maker, was appearing for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court after admitting a month ago that his careless driving caused the death of Stephanie Anne Ellis.

The crash, at the Goulds Road-Leeston Road intersection, near Springston happened about 10.10am on February 23. Stephanie Ellis, 54, a mother of two adult children, was killed when a Honda Odyssey carrying two German men – who were uninjured – went through a stop sign and crashed into the side door of the other vehicle.

Mrs Ellis, who had recently left her job of eight years as a teacher assistant at Hillmorton High School’s Upland Unit, was freed from the wreckage of her car by firefighters, but later died at the scene.

The court was told last month that Muller was a German national who had been in New Zealand since December 28 and had an airline ticket to return to Germany on March 26.

Stephanie Ellis’ son Jeremy, 28, told the court said he had taken over the responsibility of looking after his younger sister after the death of their mother. He said he still felt anger towards the driver but he also felt some sympathy and understood there was no intent on his part.

He said: “I am borderline afraid to drive my own vehicle. I am confident in my own driving abilities, but it is other people on the road I am worried about.” He accepted there was no speed, alcohol or drugs involved.

He said his mother had got her life back on track after difficulties. There had been some despicable people in her life but she had always remained civil while they had treated her “like dirt”.

His sister Rachel, 19, said she felt sympathy for the driver who had to live with the death he had caused, for the rest of his life.

The court was told that Muller unreservedly accepted responsibility for the fatal crash. He was a single man who had been travelling in New Zealand on a three-month tour. He was travelling with a group of German travellers he had met. When the crash happened, they were travelling in two cars from Coe’s Ford where they had camped the previous night.

Muller met the family at a restorative justice conference that lasted three hours during the remand for sentence.

Muller has been diagnosed with spreading malignant melanoma.

Judge Raoul Neave ordered reparation of $450 for damage to a fence, and was told that $1500 had already been paid for the loss of Mrs Ellis’ car. Muller’s own car, bought for his New Zealand tour, had been written off.

He told Muller: “The impact on the family is impossible to calculate. You have participated fully and meaningfully in the restorative justice process, and I don’t imagine that is easy for anybody. The family have found benefit from participating in it.”



Category: Focus

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