‘System failed drink-drive victim’

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A Queenstown employer says the reason a local hit-and-run victim’s not been paid reparation is the system’s fault – not that of the drunk driver who nearly killed her.

When jailed last June, Brit builder Nicholas Catlin was ordered to pay his victim, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, $2500 immediately, and another $5000 when available.

However, Mountain Scene reported last week that, a year after the incident, Japanese hotel worker Mutsuko Morisue still hasn’t been paid a cent.

Catlin’s ex-employer Wayne Gore says that’s because the judge declined a detention sentence.

Catlin would have continued working for him so he could fully repay his victim and also pay back some of the massive health and justice system costs incurred by the New Zealand taxpayer, Gore explains.

“He had every intention to pay that money back but the system is what failed the lady, not Nick.”

Gore, who co-owns Lake Hayes’ Stoneridge Estate, says the Ministry of Justice’s home detention service had inspected the outbuilding to which Catlin would have been confined, via bracelet monitoring, when not at his workplace 150 metres away.

“The security people tested the bracelet and we were asked to sign papers in respect of his presence and proximity to our family, him now being a criminal.

“His lawyer presented an offer of $2500 to be paid immediately at his sentencing hearing to his victim, via his employer, if home detention was granted.”

Instead, Catlin was sentenced to two years and four months’ prison.

Judge Bernadette Farnan decided the interests of justice were best served by a prison sentence as the offending was too serious to meet the criteria for home detention. Catlin had two previous drink-drive convictions in the UK, was three times the NZ drink-drive limit, speeding, and fled the scene.

Gore says prior to sentencing, Catlin also applied to renew his work visa specifically to enable him to pay reparation.

“Immigration NZ declined the work visa application and, as can be expected, Nick was unable to earn any money to pay his victim and will now be deported without any opportunity of doing so.”

Gore accepts what Catlin did was “absolutely heinous”.

“He made a hell of an error of judgement in getting drunk and deciding to drive, but, at the end of the day, the victim’s got nothing, you as the taxpayer of NZ have got nothing, and all in the name of the law.”

scoop@scene.co.nz