Learner driver who killed motorcyclist fined, sentenced to community service

A learner driver who killed a motorcyclist by turning in front of him has been sentenced to community service and made to pay $9000 in reparations.

Laura Brown was sentenced in Palmerston North on Monday. 

The 26-year-old pleaded guilty in December to careless driving causing Lance Dillon Bell's death.

Brown, who at the time was an employee of Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, was breaching the conditions of the learner license she had held for nine years by driving without L plates or a licensed driver in the car. 

She was driving south from Palmerston North to Rangiotu when she moved into the right turning bay to turn on to Rangiotu Rd.

She saw the headlight of Bell's motorcycle - but decided she had enough time to turn.

This decision cost Bell his life. He slammed into the passenger side of the Toyota and was flung as far as 30 metres. He died in hospital the same day. 

As well as 200 hours community service and a $9000 fine, Brown has been disqualified from driving for nine months. 

Bell's partner told the court she struggles to put her grief into words. 

"One day we were planning our wedding, and suddenly I was planning a funeral."

She said she will think of Bell every time she sees her daughter -  and is heartbroken the toddler won't have a father. 

"Our daughter will never have her father take her to the first day of school. He won't be here to walk her down the aisle. I personally don't know how I will open my heart up to someone else again."

Judge Jonathan Krebbs said it was "impossible" to know whether having someone in the car with Brown would have saved Bell's life, but that her actions were "far from deliberate".

"You were driving outside the terms of your licence. You misjudged it, it is far from deliberate."

He apologised to Brown for the fact that she lost her job.

"I am sorry that was a consequence your employers thought was appropriate."

Brown's former employer NZTA confirmed she is no longer employed with the agency.