Crash victims critical of police prosecution

Court House-doorwayA couple are disappointed with police handling of the prosecution of a septic tank truck driver who veered across the road and knocked them off their motorcycle causing serious injuries.

The couple, Leo and Teresa Sluys, said after the Christchurch District Court sentencing of Jeremy Francis Lambie that they believed he should have been charged with reckless driving causing injury, or something more serious.

Teresa Sluys said: “We were disappointed with the way the police handled it because of the level of the charge. The judge just reiterated that in his comments.”

Lambie, from Oxford, was found guilty in April of two charges of careless driving causing injury to two motorcyclists who were overtaking his septic tank truck in November 2014.

Judge Paul Kellar found Lambie carelessly veered into the right hand lane of Main North Rakaia Road and collided with a motorcycle with a rider and pillion aboard.

He said Lambie called 111 after the crash, and told them that he may have swerved to the right.

Judge Kellar said Lambie was well aware the motorcycle was passing him, and because of the charges he did not need to say whether it was a deliberate move.

The two victims on the Harley Davidson motorbike told the court they saw effluent leaking from the hose at the back of Lambie’s septic tank truck, and decided to overtake him so they would not get covered in it.

They both said they believed Lambie deliberately veered to the right hand side of the road in front of them, and they collided.

Leo Sluys said: “The truck just lunged at us, there was no sign it was going to happen, no warning.”

He had no memory of what happened after the crash, until he woke up in hospital with a collapsed lung, broken leg, broken bone in his foot, damage to his spleen, cuts to his face, and three crooked fingers on his left hand. His hand was still damaged and he suffers short and long term memory loss.

Lambie told police he was motioning with his arm to slow the bike down, and denied going across the centre line. He said the bike pulled back in front of him in the lane, and collided with the truck.

Defence counsel David Jackson said at today’s sentencing that Lambie’s driving had been “clumsy, imprudent, and careless – but it wasn’t deliberate”.

“There was no suggestion of his acting with malice, or having any intention of knocking these cyclists down,” he said.

He told the court that Lambie was likely to lose his job because of the driving disqualification that would be imposed.

Judge Kellar said Lambie had “suddenly veered into the path of the motorcycle” causing serious injuries to the rider and pillion.

He said: “Given the level of the charge, it was unnecessary for me to determine whether you deliberately veered into the path of the motorcycle in a misguided attempt to slow them down, or some other more sinister finding.”

He imposed 200 hours of community work, disqualification for 10 months, reparations of $773 for the damage, and emotional harm reparations of $500 to each victim.

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