Lies about driver thwarted fatal crash prosecution

Court House-Sept-2013-08Lies told to the police have prevented anyone being held accountable for an Otira truck crash in which one man was killed and two others seriously injured.

Two of the Chinese men who admitted telling lies about who was driving appeared in the Christchurch District Court today to admit charges of perverting the course of justice.

Judge John Macdonald remanded both men on bail for sentencing on August 19. He called for pre-sentence reports to assess their suitability for home detention sentences and referred the case for a Restorative Justice meeting.

At that session, the men are expected to meet the wife of the man killed in the April 2012 crash, Danian Xu, a 49-year-old chef from Christchurch.

Police prosecutor Bronwen Blackmore told the court reparation payments were being sought for Mr Xu’s wife and son. “Due to the defendants’ actions in hampering the police investigation, no one has been held accountable for the careless driving. This has caused them to suffer emotionally and reparation is sought for their loss, damage, and emotional harm.”

Before the court were Feng Sun, 39, and Yu Ou Yang, 52. Counsel for Ou Yang, James Rapley, asked for a delay of at least six weeks for the sentencing so that the Restorative Justice conference could take place.

Mrs Blackmore said Sun and Mr Xu and a third man were in a rental truck that left Christchurch on April 22, 2012, heading for Greymouth. Ou Yang was in a car following behind. The rental truck was taking supplies to Greymouth where the men were due to open a restaurant.

On the descent from Arthur’s Pass to Otira the truck left the road and plunged 15m over the side of the Otira Gorge onto the dry riverbed. Mr Xu died at the scene, and Sun and the other man received a broken jaw, facial cuts, and spinal injuries. They were taken to Christchurch Hospital by the Solid Energy rescue helicopter.

Months later, when Sun, Ou Yang, and the third person in the truck were interviewed by police, they gave statements that Sun had been the driver.

After further investigation, they were interviewed again in 2013, and Sun and Ou Yang retracted their statements and admitted that the third person in the truck had been the driver. That person continued to deny being the driver, but Sun said he had asked them to lie because he did not have a driver’s licence at the time.

Sun had recorded a conversation he had on his cellphone in which the third man admitted “it is me who did the wrong thing – I’ll just go and confess, okay?”

In a later recorded conversation, the man said: “I understand. You do not need to say anymore. I understand, so be it. I drove the vehicle. I understand. You do not need to say any more.”

Mrs Blackmore told the court: “As a result of Sun and Ou Yang providing the two contrasting statements to police, and [the third person] lying as to who the driver was, the prosecution for the careless driving matters has been made significantly more difficult and Sun was acquitted of both charges.

“Given the time delay before the crash occurring on April 22, 2012, and the defendant coming forward with a second version of events almost a year later, crucial evidence has been lost.”

Sun said he had lied to the police about being the driver because he wanted to help out his friend and did not realise the consequences of his actions. Ou Yang said Sun told him to lie and he went along with it because he felt he owed Sun for helping him with the move.

Police say the third man continues to deny being the driver. He believes that Sun is now blaming him because Sun is a New Zealand resident and believes he would be expelled from New Zealand if he were found guilty.

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