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Banned driver sped from police and crashed into Hutt Valley wedding photographers

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Gypsy Rose Taumata-Hura was sentenced in the Hastings District Court for dangerous driving causing injury, shoplifting and assault. Photo / Facebook

A woman swore at officers as she drove off from a police stop, reaching twice the legal speed limit before crashing into a car carrying two wedding photographers travelling home from a job.

The crash had dire consequences for the photographers, who both sustained injuries that required surgery, and destroyed their equipment.

This week, Gypsy Rose Taumata-Hura, 24, appeared in the Hastings District Court to be sentenced for dangerous driving causing injury, and on multiple other charges mainly related to shoplifting and retail theft in Hawke’s Bay between July and October last year.

These included three assaults on shop staff who tried to stop her – she pushed one and punched the other two.

Taumata-Hura was sent to prison for 22 months.

The most serious charge related to what Judge Bridget Mackintosh called a “catastrophic” piece of driving in the Hutt Valley last December 30 after Taumata-Hura, an unlicenced and banned driver, was seen speeding and tailgating other vehicles.

Police pulled her over using lights and siren, but, when an officer approached her car, Taumata-Hura became abusive and drove off at speed.

She was clocked at 100km/h in a 50km/h zone and was seen overtaking dangerously before colliding with the photographers’ vehicle at a roundabout.

Taumata-Hura’s car ended up hitting a lamppost and the victims’ car rolled at least twice, leaving both men in it badly injured.

It was “a very, very bad piece of driving which resulted in serious harm to people”, Judge Mackintosh said.

The passenger was trapped and had to be cut from the wreck. Both men later required surgery.

The driver of the car suffered fractures to his cheekbones and nose, and his passenger broke an ankle and a knee, as well as receiving cuts and swelling to an arm.

More than $18,000 worth of camera gear in the car was damaged. Insurance only covered the vehicle.

Taumata-Hura faced only one charge of dangerous driving causing injury, even though two people had been injured. Judge Mackintosh told the police prosecutor she felt a second charge should have been laid.

Judge Mackintosh said the driver of the car was an immigrant from Sri Lanka who had been in New Zealand since 2017. The passenger was in New Zealand on a work visa.

After reading the victim impact statements, the judge said that the victims had “a wonderful day” at the wedding but it ended “on the receiving end of an out-of-control driver”.

The driver with the facial injuries was still fearful, having flashbacks and trouble sleeping, and was left with a “profound sense of vulnerability”.

The passenger’s injuries had prevented him from working and therefore he had difficulty finding a sponsor employer to allow him to stay in New Zealand.

“His whole life has really completely changed as a result of him being in that vehicle on that day,” Judge Mackintosh said.

Taumata-Hura’s offending had occurred since her release from Arohata Prison in April last year, the court heard.

One of the charges she faced was breaching prison release conditions by associating with Kahu Lee Kahika, a co-offender with whom she stole $1000 worth of food from a seasonal workers’ hostel in Hawke’s Bay in 2022.

In sending Taumata-Hura back to jail, the judge denied her leave to apply for home detention, saying she left an alcohol and drug rehabilitation programme “and went on to offend in a very serious way”.

Judge Mackintosh said reports on Taumata-Hura’s background were sad to read and she had been the victim of a variety of abuses and had issues with substance abuse.

But her lifestyle led her to associate with Mongrel Mob members, which did not bode well for her, and leaving the rehabilitation programme had caused her to end up in a worse situation.

“Sadly, help that has been offered to you in the past does not seem to have been productive in any way.”

Taumata-Hura was ordered to pay a total of more than $9000 of reparation for the camera equipment, over time, but the judge noted that she had outstanding reparation orders for past offending.

The photographers were able to retrieve their clients’ wedding photographs from an SD card in the damaged camera gear.

Ric Stevens spent many years working for the former New Zealand Press Association news agency, including as a political reporter at Parliament, before holding senior positions at various daily newspapers. He joined NZME’s Open Justice team in 2022 and is based in Hawke’s Bay. His writing in the crime and justice sphere is informed by four years of front-line experience as a probation officer.

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