Driver too drunk to remember hitting woman

Pan was sentenced at the High Court in Rotorua.

An acupuncture business owner who ran over and killed a 71-year-old woman told police he didn’t even remember driving down the road where he hit her because he was “too drunk”.

Xianju Pan had been celebrating Chinese New Year with friends at a Rotorua restaurant on January 23 this year and drinking beer and the Chinese spirit baiju, which is similar to whiskey.

According to the police summary of facts, Pan then returned to his BMW SUV and drove off.

“The defendant was observed by other motorists cutting another motorist off whilst navigating a roundabout in the Central Mall area, not indicating for any of the turns that he made and crossing the centre line.”

Two other drivers alerted to his poor driving became concerned Pan was “either a very poor driver or intoxicated”.

As Pan approached the Ranolf St intersection, so too did Martine Gale. She was walking back from the supermarket with the aid of her wheeled walking stroller.

“She was observed and clearly visible to the drivers of the two vehicles directly behind the defendant’s vehicle,” the summary said.

“The defendant did not slow down. The front of the defendant’s vehicle struck Mrs Gale and she was knocked immediately to the ground and went under the vehicle.”

Pan slowed down, but failed to stop, and was followed to his home address by another motorist who witnessed the crash.

“He was observed by the civilian motorist to be stumbling and swaying as he walked into the address.”

That witness called police to Pan’s address, who spent around four minutes knocking on his door before he appeared and asked: “What happened?”

“The defendant smelt of alcohol, his eyes were glazed and his speech was slurred.”

Gale, who was transferred to Waikato Hospital, died on January 29, the cause of death found to be head trauma.

Pan declined to formally comment in a DVD recorded interview but made “several spontaneous comments”.

“In relation to the crash itself, the defendant said he did not remember hitting anyone while driving, he remembers being at Devon St and explained that this is the address of a patient of his,” the summary said.

“The defendant said he could not remember driving to Devon St and believes the reason for this was that he was too drunk.”

Pan was sentenced at the High Court in Rotorua on Wednesday on charges of driving with excessive breath alcohol and failing to stop after an accident.

He received 11 months’ home detention and was disqualified from driving for four years.

-Stuff/Benn Bathgate.

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