Queenstown jet-skier gets home supervision


A local teen who left his friend for dead after a Christmas Day jetski crash has been sentenced to a year’s supervision. 

Jamie Ridgway, 19, left former friend Connor Williams, also 19 at the time, unconscious and floating face-up in the freezing Kawarau River after the jetskis they were riding collided with each other. 

After the crash Ridgway, a chef, fled the scene at high speed, thinking his friend was dead. 

Williams sparked a search and rescue operation after waking up in the water and thinking Ridgway was missing. 

Ridgway, from Kelvin Heights, had earlier pleaded guilty to failing to give assistance after a crash under the Maritime Transport Act 1994. 

Lawyer Phena Byrne says he knows his actions were “inexcusable and wrong and it’s only by sheer luck the consequences weren’t worse than they were”. 

“He knows he essentially left his friend for dead.” 

Byrne says Ridgway has no intention of driving a jetski again. 

Judge Dominic Flatley admitted he didn’t know what to do with Ridgway. 

“I imagine you’re going to regret it for a long time and that in itself is the penalty, as far as I’m concerned.” 

“I can’t minimise what you did but I can understand it, I suppose…you panicked, didn’t know quite what to do and you took flight.” 

“I don’t necessarily view you as a criminal – you’re not someone who intended to go out and do wrong…but the decision you made here was wrong.” 

Ridgway was sentenced to 12 months supervision and to continued counselling to “deal with what has happened”.
He also has to pay $2127 for costs incurred in the unnecessary search, which involved a chopper. 

“It’s been a trying ordeal for everybody concerned and you will carry this with you for the rest of your life,” Flatley concluded.

Charged with hubby-beating

Queenstowner Amy Clare Howey is facing charges of attacking her ex-gang member husband. 

Howey’s lawyer Phena Byrne tried to get name suppression for her client, who pleaded not guilty to a charge of injuring Scott Howey with intent last month. 

Judge Flatley refused: “Free and open reporting is one…of the cornerstones of our justice system.” 

“Such reporting is a…consequence, in my view, of the offending and I’m not willing to grant name suppression.” 

Amy started a relationship with Scott when he was co-owner of now-closed Queenstown brothel Candy’s. 

In 2003, she announced plans to start a Wakatipu-based porn film company – but it never happened and she later told Mountain Scene it was a “gross” idea that she regretted. 

Byrne said the Howeys are still in a relationship and wanted bail conditions amended so they could be in contact – but the judge refused, claiming the relationship posed a risk to the safety of both parties and their child. 

“I take the view that they ought to stay out of each other’s way.” 

Previously living in Kelvin Heights, Amy now lives in Timaru with Scott’s mother and their three-year-old son, the court heard. 

The alleged victim – Scott – was admitted to Lakes District Hospital yesterday for seven to 10 days, with the hope he’ll enter a residential programme, Byrne told the court. 

Amy elected trial by jury, likely to be in Invercargill on June 17.

Death driver pleads guilty

A Cromwell truck driver who caused a fatal three-car crash on the Queenstown-Kingston road has pleaded guilty to five charges. 

Joanne Steel, 40, a pastor of Invercargill’s Southern River Church, died at the scene when the Nissan Terrano she was driving was hit by a Pumpcrete concrete truck driven by Brent Gordon on January 25 near Wye Creek. 

Steel’s teenage daughter was also injured and flown to Dunedin Hospital along with Pippa Shaw, driver of a Toyota Hilux. 

At the time police said it appeared Gordon, 48, crossed the centre line, causing the crash. 

In Queenstown District Court yesterday, Gordon admitted failing to have at least 10 hours continuous rest between February 25-27, falsifying a logbook, and two charges of driving a motor vehicle in a dangerous way causing harm to Shaw and to Steel’s daughter and the death of Joanne Steel. 

Gordon was uninjured in the accident. 

He was granted bail on condition he must not drive – despite lawyer Maxine Knowler opposing the condition, saying he has a family and his employment as a concrete pump operator meant he “needs his licence to put himself in a better position for sentencing”. 

Judge Flatley refused to let Gordon drive, saying it was a matter of public safety. 

“He has a prior history and quite frankly I think it would be wrong of the court to allow him to continue driving at this point.” 

Gordon appears for sentencing on May 16. 

Elderly sibling assault

An elderly Ashburton man who punched his sister at their Queenstown holiday home has been discharged without conviction. 

The 71-year-old hit his then 70-year-old sibling after family tensions came to a head following a few drinks, Queenstown District Court heard. 

The man, who has name suppression, went for a walk but on his return was warned by his sister to calm down or she’d call the police. 

They then scuffled and he began laying into her with closed fists in an uncharacteristic rage. 

He also struck a neighbour who came to investigate. 

The man pleaded guilty but was discharged without conviction. 

While police sergeant Ian Collin argued it was “black and white” domestic violence, judge Flatley says the consequences were “out of proportion with the offence”.