200kmh crash driver described as ‘idiot’

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

The father of a 32-year-old woman passenger killed in a high-speed crash near Burnham, told the Christchurch District Court that she was “killed by the actions of an idiot”.

At the sentencing of Craig Richard Bennett, 36, of Dunsandel, both Jaimey Leigh Fellows’ parents read their victim impact reports, and her mother said she could not condone the horrific speed involved, and the driving which was reckless and dangerous.

She said Bennett made a terrible mistake. The accident trail was over 200m, was horrific to view, and looked like a plane crash site.

She said she attended a restorative justice meeting with Bennett, where he apologised. She said she would like to work with Bennett, when he is released from prison, to teach youth drivers the dangers of speeding.

Crown prosecutor, Sean Mallett, said Fellows’ was a needless death, and there was no justification for Bennett to be travelling at over 200km an hour with no regard for his passenger or the public on the road.

Witnesses said he was overtaking cars in no passing areas, and sparks were coming off his car.

Defence counsel Andrew McCormick said Bennett was broken both physically and mentally, and had been seriously injured. He accepted full responsibility, and apologised profusely to the victim’s family.

Bennett offered the family emotional harm reparation of $10,000.

Judge Brian Callaghan said he could not find another case where the speed at the time of the accident was over 200km an hour. He was sentencing Bennett on a charge of driving dangerously causing death, which Bennett had admitted.

He said Bennett was driving on Main South Road at 12.03am on October 21. He sped up when the speed limit was 80km an hour and continued at speed when he overtook a truck on double yellow lines.

At Burnham he overtook a car, but lost control of his car, crossed the centre line, and collided with a fence post which hit the passenger’s door. The car barrel-rolled a number of times, and Miss Fellows’ seatbelt snapped and she was thrown out of the car on the last barrel roll. The car came to rest 200m from where the crash happened.

He said it was inevitable that a car travelling at this speed would come to a grievous end, and dangerous speed was a deliberate action.

He sentenced Bennett to two years’ eight months’ prison, disqualified him from driving for four years and said he was to pay the reparation he had offered to Fellows family.


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