Foreign driver sentenced for killing horse, injuring rider

Supposed remorse from a Chinese foreign driver who caused a serious car crash that killed a horse and seriously injured its rider are just "crocodile tears", his victim says.

Peng Wang, 28, was found guilty last Wednesday of careless driving causing injury over the crash on Postman Rd in Auckland's Dairy Flat in August 2016.

The crash left Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford in a serious condition and she's still recovering from her injuries eight months on.

Wang appeared in Auckland District Court on Wednesday and was sentenced to 80 hours community, ordered to pay $25,000 in reparations and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters believes he should have received the maximum sentence of three months' prison.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Jonathan Down said Wang didn't express any remorse "at the scene or since".

"There was not a glimmer of remorse until the pre-sentence report," Judge Down said.

He now expressed sorrow for the "pain and difficulty" Ms Rutherford suffered and is still suffering.

"Whilst Mr Wang accepts the findings of the court, he says he did exercise due care, and what happened was an unfortunate but unavoidable accident," Judge Down said.

He said Wang was driving too fast for the conditions - likely going between 60km/h and 70km/h - and showed "gross carelessness".

The horse was given no more than 50cm of passing room.

Judge Down said the driving disqualification wouldn't make much difference to him because he "will leave for China soon".

He said the punishment would have been more severe, but Wang had to stay in New Zealand for seven extra months which has "damaged your family and business".

Wang's lawyer said the money could be paid immediately.

Outside court, Ms Rutherford said the family and the equestrian community would be in "disbelief" at the sentence.

"This has caused us a hell of a lot more than 80 hours of suffering and it's changed the way people ride around New Zealand on our rural roads.

"It's not enough. It was meant to be a deterrent, the judge last week said he was going to make an example of this man. Eighty hours - really?"

Ms Rutherford claimed Wang had "no appreciation" of what he'd done and his sorrow is just "crocodile tears".

Mr Peters says if Wang wasn't going to be sent to prison, he should at least have had his other penalties increased.

"It is gross negligence on the Government’s part that it makes no serious attempt to ensure foreign drivers coming to New Zealand are competent to drive here," Mr Peters says.

During the trial, Wang, who was driving on a Chinese licence, claimed the horse hit his car rather than the other way around.

He admitted never reading the New Zealand Road Code, but tried to learn about driving from those he was visiting on his business trip.

Ms Rutherford and her daughter Ella had been riding on the long, straight stretch of road close to the edge, when Wang drove toward them and hit them.

The impact totalled his grey van, killed Ms Rutherford's horse, Curious George, and very nearly killed Ms Rutherford. Ella told the court she thought her mother had died.

karen rutherford horse foreign driver crash auckland
Curious George comforted after the crash (Supplied)

In an emotional victim impact statement, Ms Rutherford said she considered herself a strong woman.

"But when you hit me head-on, you shattered me like never before - my emotional strength, my physical presence and my professional faith in New Zealand's political and justice 'systems.'

"The trauma you have inflicted on me, my daughter whose horse George was killed, my family, friends and the equestrian community is unspeakable.

"As I lay in that ditch I wondered where you were, why you never came to help. This for me is the most devastating of all."