Visiting driver caused $145,000 damage

The court will count on the good intentions of a German visitor to pay for some of the $145,000 damage he did in a head-on crash when he veered across State Highway 73 near Springfield.

Florian Maass, 27, flies out of New Zealand on Wednesday bound for London, and then on to Germany after a two-day stop-over.

Maass has been in New Zealand for nine months, driving legally on a German licence, and has been working at the Porter Heights skifield.

He was travelling in darkness, at 7.40pm on August 19, when he veered right and struck a motor-home towing a Suzuki four-wheel-drive, and injured a 60-year-old man who received cuts and bruises.

Maass pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to a charge of careless driving causing injury.

Community Magistrate Jan Holmes said she saw little point in making Maass stay in New Zealand and try to raise money to pay reparations. She told him: “You have limited means. Even if you stay in the country it is questionable whether you would be able to pay the reparations.”

The wife of the injured man emailed the police to say that he had cancer and although the injuries he received were recoverable, they would affect the quality of life he was able to enjoy.

The motor-home was 18 months old. It was insured but there is a shortfall of about $15,000 between what the insurance company is paying out, and the cost of replacement.

The full cost of the damage to the other vehicles is $141,400, and the community magistrate warned Maass that the insurance company might seek to recover that from him, even in Germany.

Duty lawyer Clare Yardley said Maass did want to pay some reparations, even if he had to make payments over a number of years from Germany.

With the help of his parents he had $750 available to pay to the victims straight away, and when he returned to Germany he would also receive his last pay-cheque and a tax payment of about another $500 which he would also pay.

She said his parents had already paid $3000 for the cost of the borrowed car he was driving when he crashed, and its towage fees.

Community Magistrate Holmes said it would have been better if that money had been paid to the victims rather than the car owner.

She also said it would have been better if Maass had got a New Zealand licence. It might have made him “more in tune to driving on the correct side of the road”.

She disqualified him for eight months, ordered him to pay $750 immediately, and another $4000 for emotional harm reparations after his return to Germany.

“I expect you to honour that order from Germany when you are able to pay it,” she said.

If he did not pay it, and wanted to come back to New Zealand, there would be “implications on that front”, she said.


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