Driving error in fog caused motorcyclist’s death

Motorcycle-signA Swede described as “a highly gifted horsewoman” has been ordered to do 140 hours of community work and pay $2000 to the partner of a motorcyclist she killed through a momentary driving error.

Maria Helena Enochsson, 28, a stable foreman for a horse stud property on Springs Road, Prebbleton, had admitted the charge of careless driving causing the death of 50-year-old father-of-two Dennis John Cullen.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders also disqualified her from driving for six months at a sentencing attended by the dead man’s family.

Enochsson had met the family ahead of the sentencing. Defence counsel Clare Yardley told the court the family was “very forgiving”.

Enochsson, who has been in New Zealand since 2006 and is hoping for residency, had offered the $2000 emotional harm reparation payment which would be paid by her father in Sweden.

Mr Cullen’s family did not seek the payment, but Judge Saunders ordered that it be made to his partner who faced significant financial losses from his death.

He suggested that because of Enochsson’s skills, her community work could be carried out helping the Riding for the Disabled organisation.

The judge noted that the Cullen family had had its share of grief over the years. Mr Cullen’s younger brother Christopher was killed in a road accident 27 years ago.

On April 30, Dennis Cullen was riding from his home in Leeston to work at City Care, in Christchurch, on a foggy morning. He had his headlight on, but Enochsson misjudged the distance in the fog when she drove her car out onto Springs Road and into the path of the motorcycle.

Mr Cullen took evasive action but struck the car, and was thrown some distance. He received internal injuries and died in hospital four days later.

Mrs Yardley said the police had acknowledged the efforts of Enochsson at the crash scene, attending to Mr Cullen and telephoning for help. She described Enochsson as a highly gifted horsewoman.

Judge Saunders said her culpability was low compared to some other driving cases that came before the courts.

She is paying off a $15,000 claim by the insurance company for Mr Cullen’s motorcycle, because she was not insured herself.

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