Phone with open text found after fatal crash

Police found a cellphone with an open text message inside a car involved in a head-on crash that killed a motorcyclist on Queen Elizabeth II Drive.

The phone was found in the passenger side footwell of Judy Rita McGirr’s car after the crash on February 9 in which Tyrone Tiatoa was killed.

When she spoke to the police, McGirr denied being distracted and said she thought the motorcycle had come into her lane and she was taking evasive action to avoid hitting it.

However, today the 62-year-old teacher aide admitted a charge of careless driving causing death and Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan remanded her for sentencing on September 20.

He asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared and asked for the case to be assessed for a possible restorative justice meeting with the victim’s family. He said a report on her ability to pay reparations may be required.

Defence counsel Trudi Aickin said interim suppression granted at her first appearance last month was being abandoned.

Police said McGirr left a function in Avondale, driving her car, between 9pm and 9.10pm. At 9.02pm she sent a text message and received a text in reply at 9.06pm.

As she drove west on Queen Elizabeth II Drive, Mr Tiatoa was riding towards her in the east bound lane on the 80km an hour road.

Near Marshlands Road, McGirr drifted into the east bound lane, until she was completely within the lane.

As he rode towards her, Mr Tiatoa tried to take evasive action but lost control of his motorcycle which slid into the front of McGirr’s car. The rider’s helmet was dislodged and slid underneath the car.

Police said the crash occurred well within the east bound lane where the motorcycle was driving.

The rider received a non-survivable transected aorta and a spinal column injury. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Soon after the collision, McGirr’s phone was found in the passenger side footwell of the car, showing the open message sent at 9.06pm.

Police said McGirr had no previous convictions.

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