19 Aug 2016

'Grossly incompetent' driver's jail time quashed

9:30 pm on 19 August 2016

The jail term of a "grossly incompetent" Chinese driver who killed a Tauranga motorcyclist has been quashed by the High Court and replaced with home detention.

Jieling Xiao was in New Zealand on a one-year working holiday when she veered into the path of 23-year-old Rhys Middleton near Napier on Waitangi weekend. He died at the scene.

Xiao had been sentenced to 17 months in jail by the Napier District Court, with the judge noting Xiao's "extremely incompetent" driving had led to the death of Mr Middleton, and that it had been "an accident waiting to happen".

The sentence was reached after the judge was told Immigration New Zealand intended to serve Xiao with a deportation notice if she did not receive a jail sentence.

The Immigration Act means deportation orders can not be served while a person was in prison, but could be executed while an offender was under home detention.

But that jail time has now been replaced with nine months' home detention and 150 hours community work.

Justice Jillian Mallon has ruled that the chance Xiao would be deported if she got home detention should not have been taken into account when the court had earlier jailed her.

Police argued that regardless of that, prison was the right option as a general deterrent.

But Justice Mallon said several factors meant Xiao had limited culpability, including that she did not consider she might be putting other drivers at risk, and that she had practised driving.