Teen cleared of blame for death
THE Gympie Magistrate yesterday dismissed a charge of dangerous driving against teenager Joshua Mackay who was accused of causing the death of Craig Hasted on the evening of May 7 last year.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin ruled that there was not enough evidence to commit the 18-year-old after more than a year of uncertainty for the defendant and his family and the family and friends of the late Mr Hasted.
Mr Hasted was killed when his motorbike collided with Mr Mackay’s Hilux ute at the intersection of Lawson and Eel Creek roads west of Gympie.
The committal hearing began on March 23 with evidence heard from the investigating officer, Sergeant Vic Tipman, the doctor who performed the autopsy on Mr Hasted, forensic investigator Senior Sergeant Andrew Stanley and Geoffrey Davis, who claimed to have been travelling close enough behind Mr Hasted to see the crash happen.
Mr Davis claimed he was 100 metres behind the motorcycle when he saw Mr Mackay’s Hilux ute enter the intersection at high speed.
The hearing resumed yesterday for cross examination of the remaining witnesses and for Magistrate Baldwin to decide whether there was sufficient evidence for a jury to convict Mr Mackay on the charge.
Appearing for the defendant was Barrister Peter Davis Senior Counsel, instructed by Terry O’Gorman of Robertson O’Gormon Solicitors.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Jason Todman called the remaining witnesses – advanced care paramedic Richard Barnett, Gympie Fire and Rescue station officer Rob Frey, police officer Constable Imran Foondun, Deb Rowlands (the first person to come across the crash site) Louise Ackworth (former girlfriend of Mr Hasted) and the defendant’s father Scott Mackay.
Mr Mackay told the court it was dark when he and his son had approached the intersection on their way to Gympie. He said he had looked left and right a number of times as he had done throughout his son’s time as a learner driver.
“I saw a dim light in the distance. To me it was way off in the distance so Josh proceeded to cross the intersection. At that stage the bike was on top of us,” he said.
“When I first spotted (the light) it looked 200/300 metres away. I recall yelling to Josh to stop but that was at the point of impact. It was a natural reaction.”
In summing up the defence case, Mr Davis said the magistrate’s decision depended on whether Mr Mackay’s actions were dangerous.
“What evidence is there that suggests the manner of driving was dangerous other than that a collision occurred?” he asked.
“There is no suggestion of speed, recklessness or witnesses saying the vehicle was out of control.”
He said evidence from Mr Davis was unreliable as he admitted to changing his story when cross-examined and evidence from Sgt Tipman was 90 per cent irrelevant.
“The crown (prosecutors) are not within cooee of making a case to put to a jury to say the headlight was on (the motorbike) when there is evidence that only the parking light was on,” Barrister Davis said.
“If one discounts Mr Davis’ evidence it is obvious what happened. A motorcycle was coming along Eel Creek Road with the park lights on. You’ve got Joshua looking to his left and right, sees a dim light in the distance and pulls out. That is not objectively dangerous... it’s reasonable to assume the light was far away.
Sgt Todman said from day one it was clear to police that Mr Mackay disobeyed the give-way sign and cut the corner. He said that evidence was capable of being accepted by a jury as “careless driving may well be dangerous driving”.
Barrister Davis said prosecution had done the right thing by calling Scott Mackay to the stand as a reliable and credible witness. He said Mr Mackay’s evidence contradicted Mr Davis’ which were “really quite farcical”.
“There are massive problems with his evidence — if you take it away you’re left with the evidence of Mr Mackay and a stack of evidence to corroborate him.”
Mrs Baldwin said she could not find sufficient evidence to commit Mr Mackay to trial.