Sunday, May 19, 2024

Guilty plea over schoolgirl’s death

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Five-year-old Joanna Kong died after being struck by a vehicle in a car park at Pigeon Mountain Primary School on March 23. Times file photo Chris Harrowell

The man charged by police over the death of east Auckland schoolgirl Joanna Kong has pleaded guilty.

The 77-year-old, whose name is suppressed, pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death when he appeared in the Manukau District Court on May 28.

He’s due back in court to be sentenced on July 27.

Joanna was struck by a vehicle in a car park at Pigeon Mountain Primary School in Bucklands Beach on March 23.

She was taken to Starship Hospital in a critical condition but died there with family by her side on March 28.

Counties Manukau Police’s serious crash investigation unit was notified of the incident at the time and examined the scene.

Police officers were at the school in Wells Road when the Times visited that day.

Yellow cordon tape had been placed around a car park at the front of the school and access to the entrance was blocked off.

Investigators were examining a silver Mercedes-Benz sedan parked on grass adjacent to the car park.

Police publicly announced on March 24 a 77-year-old man had been forbidden to drive following the incident and any further decisions around his eligibility for driving would be for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to make.

Pigeon Mountain Primary School principal Ian Dickinson and board of trustees presiding member Mark Eades posted a public message on the school’s website after Joanna’s death.

“We are supporting and helping the [girl’s] family where possible,” they said.

“Our sympathies and love go out to her family and we will be striving to provide them with any support they need.

“During this difficult time, we are all going to express a range of emotions.

“We therefore should expect, try to understand, and support a variety of emotions and behaviours.

“We should support discussion about the event, the feelings it gives rise to, and ways of responding.”

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