An out-of-pocket Wakatipu car crash victim blames the justice system for letting the other driver fly home with reparation unpaid.
And a veteran Queenstown police officer reckons there’s little chance of victim Eliza Anderson seeing the $4000 she’s owed.
Anderson’s $5000 car was T-boned when Singaporean tourist Teck Kai Wong failed to give way in his rented luxury motor home at the Speargrass Flat and Lower Shotover Roads’ intersection on June 6. Both vehicles were written off.
Anderson, hospitalised with suspected neck injuries, concussion and a torn bicep ligament, faces a gruelling two-month recovery plus unemployment.
Wong was convicted of careless driving and ordered to pay $5000 reparation when he appeared in Christchurch District Court last week. He paid $1000 immediately but flew back to Singapore last Thursday still owing $4000.
Queenstown senior constable Chris Blackford says victims involved in crashes with foreign drivers are very unlikely to get money back.
“Once they leave the country the chances – for the most part getting any money out of them – are almost non-existent,” Blackford says.
“There are honourable people out there who come to the party and compensate victims of their actions but it’s the exception, not the rule.”
Anderson: “People should be responsible for their actions and the consequences and he hasn’t. It’s just so crazy he was allowed leave the country – shocking and disgusting.”
Confusion surrounds how Anderson will receive the final $4000.
Both Blackford and Anderson understand Wong was ordered by the court to pay $20-a-week, which would take four years.
However, Mountain Scene approached the Ministry of Justice and its view is the remaining money has to be paid by July 10.
So far, Wong has made no more payments.
“It’s a nightmare and a wild goose chase trying to get any information,” Anderson says.
“Justice has proved to be too weak in this case, it makes me feel sick – the whole justice system is a joke,” she says.
“If this had happened in Singapore you would be locked up until you pay the $5000 but here a judge lets this go after only paying $1000. It’s so wrong.”
A letter to Anderson from Christchurch District Court says the court is responsible for collecting reparation.
However, acting general manager of collections Jacquelyn Shannon says while the Justice Ministry has Wong’s contact details, if an offender is overseas, enforcement power is limited.
If Wong doesn’t pay, she says, they can issue a warrant for his arrest if he returns.
In the meantime, she says he may voluntarily make payments from Singapore.
Anderson fumes: “So what do we actually have to do? Do we have to track him down in Singapore, and fight this battle ourselves? This is what we have a justice system for, and as a New Zealand citizen I would think I’d be looked after a bit better.”
Anderson moved to Queenstown with her partner Roy Smith a month ago and says they’ve lost far more than $5000.
“We’ve been without a car and two weeks’ pay while Roy has taken time off to care for me and drive me to hospital visits.”
Anderson feels so let down she’s considering leaving NZ.
Iconic Motor Homes – the company Wong’s vehicle was rented from – can’t provide third party insurance for Anderson because of a clause in the insurance policy: “The renter is fully liable for damage to the rental vehicle and third property if driving recklessly, dangerously or with negligence.”
A company spokeswoman says it’s been very traumatic for everyone but wouldn’t comment further.
Anderson only had third party insurance but as an AA member understands she would have qualified for vehicle compensation from AA if the court reparation order hadn’t been made.