The husband of an Australian tourist killed in a head-on smash in Queenstown says his “heart died” that day.
Terry and Susan Cullen were on holiday in the resort in February, preparing to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day.
But the day before, at about 2.30pm, Susan was killed and Terry seriously injured in an accident near the Crown Range turn-off on the Gibbston Highway.
Malaysian man Jiaxuan Goh, 24, a Masters architecture student in Auckland, was driving towards Queenstown.
He crossed over the broken yellow lines as he approached a moderate, blind, left-hand bend, went into the opposite lane and collided with the Cullens’ vehicle.
He was unable to remember what had happened that led to the crash.
But that was the moment Terry’s life was broken, the 55-year-old said in a victim impact statement at the district court on Monday.
“My heart died on the 13th of February. That was the worst day of my life.
“I lost my beautiful wife, best friend, love of my life [and] my children have been robbed of a mother.”
He recalled trying to talk to his wife immediately after the impact and people performing CPR on her on the side of the road while he was trapped in their vehicle for 45 minutes, “not being able to breathe properly and wanting to die”.
“I relive this day and night. I struggle to sleep.”
was studying to be a lawyer. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Terry, who himself suffered debilitating, life-altering injuries, said: “I ring Sue’s phone every day.
“The whole situation has turned our wonderful life … into the saddest life ever.
“I’m sure I can’t find the words to inform you how hard it is.”
Daughter Emily, 26, also read a harrowing victim impact statement.
Goh previously admitted a charge of careless driving causing Susan’s death, one of careless driving causing injury to Terry and a third of careless driving causing injury to his cousin, Jia Nea.
He sought discharges without conviction on all charges.
Judge John Brandts-Giesen found his offending was in the “moderate to low-serious category”.
Goh was driving between 80kmh and 90kmh in the 100kmh zone.
His lawyer, Louise Denton, submitted a vehicle, at that speed, could travel 25m in one second and it was likely either a moment of inattention, or momentary loss of consciousness.
She further submitted convictions may hinder his ability to become a registered architect and could affect his immigration status.
Brandts-Giesen believed employers and architecture organisations would be sympathetic and Immigration NZ would look at the case in a “principled way”.
The question then became one of proportionality between conviction and offence – and Brandts-Giesen found Goh’s case did not meet the test.
“This offence resulted in a death and serious injuries to both Mr Cullen and your cousin and it has had horrendous indirect consequences which by any measure of proportionality I can’t ignore.”
He said the Cullens’ lives had been “turned upside down” and there was no money, remorse or punishment which could remedy that, but it was with “some sadness” he entered the convictions because Goh was “a good young man”.
He was sentenced to 190 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $24,000 emotional harm reparation to Terry Cullen – $10,000 immediately and the rest by monthly $1000 installments.
He was also banned from driving for 12 months and one day, meaning he’ll have to sit a New Zealand driving test.