A Christchurch engineering firm owner has been ordered to pay $2500 to a former business associate who believes he tried to run her down in a company vehicle.
The charge of assault with a blunt instrument – the car – was withdrawn by the police at the Christchurch District Court today, but they said the vehicle missed the woman by only 15cm to 20cm.
Andrew John Thorn, pleaded guilty to two remaining charges of driving in a dangerous manner, and failing to give information about a driver.
The withdrawal of one charge and the guilty pleas to the other two forestalled a judge-alone trial that had been scheduled for today.
The hearing began with defence counsel Andrew Riches telling Judge Tom Gilbert that resolution had been reached with the police and no hearing would be needed.
Thorn was the director of Thorn Engineering Ltd which was liquidated last year.
Mr Riches told the court Thorn’s whole world “had been turned upside down” when his previous business partner had taken action to shut down his business, in June.
Thorn had been trespassed from the premises of two of his companies in Bromley. He lost the companies’ equipment and plant and lost access to the company accounts.
The woman victim of his driving had been undertaking management services for his company. Mr Riches said she had later taken a personal grievance action, even though she was actually employed by another company, but that action had been withdrawn.
Judge Gilbert said Thorn had a commercial business relationship with the woman but it had become strained and there were some on-going legal matters.
At 5pm on June 22, as she was leaving the business premises in Tanya Street and crossed the road to her parked car. She heard an engine revving as she tried to unlock the door and saw a grey utility vehicle which had the signwriting for Thorn’s company, which accelerated heavily and drove on the wrong side of the road, in her direction.
“She identified you as the person driving and believed you were trying to hit her. She leaned up against the side of her own vehicle and the other vehicle missed her by 30cm or so,” said the judge.
When spoken to by the police, Thorn initially denied being the driver and then neglected to provide the details about the driver as required.
The victim impact statement said the woman was very upset by what occurred, and genuinely feared for her safety, Judge Gilbert said.
He told Thorn: “It may be there was some business arrangement that came to grief between the pair of you, but that does not give you any right to behave as you did.”
He ordered Thorn to pay the woman $2500 as emotional harm reparations on the dangerous driving charge, and disqualified him from driving for six months. He fined him $1000 for failing to provide the police with details of the driver.