Bus driver sentenced to home detention over fatal Christmas Eve crash

The driver of the bus that crashed on Christmas Eve near Gisborne, killing three people, has been sentenced to home detention.

Talakai Aholelei, 66, received five and a half months' home detention and is disqualified from driving for two years. He has already paid $36,000 in reparations.

Aholelei was driving a bus carrying 53 people on December 24, 2016, when it crashed through a road barrier, about 30km south of Gisborne.

The bus fell 30-40 metres down a bank, killing three people, including an 11-year-old.

The vehicle was carrying a visiting brass band from Tonga to a Christmas concert. Aholelei was aware that the brakes on the bus were faulty, yet continued to drive regardless.

In October, he was charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and 27 counts of careless driving causing injury. He pleaded guilty to all 30 charges.

Aholelei was sentenced in Waitakere District Court on Wednesday. His home detention will begin on Thursday.