Tourist driver pays a fraction of damage bill

A honeymooning tourist who caused electrical havoc with a car crash on the West Coast has avoided a conviction and has returned overseas while paying only a tiny fraction of the potential $257,500 damage bill.

Nikhil Sahai – an Indian national – has returned to his home and work in Singapore.

He was allowed to leave New Zealand while he faced a charge of careless driving in a 2017 BMW rental car.

The charge was meant to be called at a sentencing session in the Christchurch District Court which Sahai was not expected to attend. The hearing was meant to settle the reparation figure.

Sahai’s rental left the road at Te Taho, near Whataroa, and crashed into a power-pole. It brought down lines and caused a power surge which was believed to blow out household appliances across the district, and damaged electrical systems in shearing sheds.

Westpower wanted $57,500 for the damage in the crash, but the cost of damage from the surge may cost insurers a further $200,000.

However, in the meantime, defence counsel Grant Tyrrell and the police agreed that it was a case where diversion could be granted under the scheme that lets first offenders off without a conviction if agreed conditions are met.

Mr Tyrrell told Judge Tom Gilbert that the sole condition had been met – an agreed payment understood to be $1000 which will be sent on to the power company.

Judge Gilbert then ordered that the charge be dismissed, to complete the diversion arrangement.

However, it may not be the end of the matter. The reparation payment does not bar the insurers from seeking more money through civil action.

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