Fatal bus crash driver sentenced to home detention

Tautea tuku'api'i pe 'a 'Aholelei 'i ha mahina 'e nima mo e konga, to'o 'ene laiseni 'i ha ta'u 'e ua pea ke ne totongi foki a'a e tola 'e $36,000.

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Talakai 'Aholelei Photo/Facebook

The driver of a  bus that crashed near Gisborne, killing three members of a Tongan school group, was sentenced to five-and-a-half-months home detention.

Talakai ‘Aholelei, 66, appeared for sentencing in the Waitakere District Court on Wednesday 24. He was also disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay $36,000 in emotional harm reparations.

‘Aholelei pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court in October 2017.

He admitted to 27 counts of careless driving causing injury and three counts of careless driving causing death.

‘Aholelei was charged in April and initially pleaded not guilty in the Manukau District Court on June 9.

The bus was carrying the Mailefihi Siu’ilikutapu College brass band, which was on a tour of New Zealand to raise funds for the school’s 70th anniversary.

It was on its way to a concert at Gisborne’s Wesleyan Methodist Church when it crashed down a steep embankment on State Highway 2, 30km south of the town.

Student Sione Taumololo, 11, and Talita Fifita, 33, died in the crash.

School teacher Leotisia Malakai, 55, died later in Waikato Hospital.

There were 53 students, teachers and supporters on the bus.

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