Victim finally gets partial payout

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The survivor of a Queenstown hit-and-run will get only a third of the reparation she is owed before the man who drove into her is deported.

Mutsuko Morisue learned last week she will finally get $2500 from recidivist drink-driver Nicholas Catlin.

The British builder is expected to be deported next month after serving less than half his prison sentence.

But it appears he only took steps to pay the money after hearing he would be hauled in front of a judge.

He was nearly three times the legal limit when he drove into the Japanese waitress as she stood on the pavement chatting to a friend on Stanley St a year ago.

Last June, he was sentenced to two years and four months’ prison, and ordered to pay Ms Morisue $2500 within 28 days and a further $5000 when he could afford to.

But she never got the money, and when she raised the issue with the court and the Ministry of Justice, was told they could do nothing until Catlin was released from prison.

After the Otago Daily Times publicised her plight, police filed an application for Catlin to be resentenced by Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court on Thursday.

But at the hearing, Southern district prosecution manager Senior Sergeant Peter Kirsopp withdrew the application, saying it was filed in the mistaken belief Catlin had been convicted of offences carrying three-year maximum prison terms. Sen Sgt Kirsopp said the prosecution service had since realised the offences carried five-year prison terms, which meant the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

However, he understood Catlin had made arrangements in the past week to pay Ms Morisue $2500.

Queenstown barrister Liam Collins told Judge Farnan that Catlin had not had an opportunity to pay the reparation earlier.

Judge Farnan asked Catlin — who appeared by audiovisual link from prison — how he would pay the remaining $5000.

He replied he would make regular payments once he had found work in England and  urged him to stick to his commitment “on a good faith basis”.

“It’s clear [Ms Morisue] has suffered significant distress — emotionally, physically and physically — and she’s significantly out of pocket.”

She had not ordered a report to assess Catlin’s ability to pay reparation.

He  worked between his arrest and sentencing, and could “undoubtedly” have afforded to pay $2500 immediately.

Ms Morisue, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent two months recovering in hospital after the incident, told the Otago Daily Times she expected to get $2500 from Catlin this week.

As for the remaining $5000, she would “just need to trust him”.

She remained dismayed by the inability of the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections to make Catlin pay up, and their lack of communication with her.

  • Otago Daily Times