Crash death accused denies he was driver
A West Australian farm worker accused of killing his employer in a crash on a rural WA road while speeding with a blood alcohol level of 0.172 denies he was the driver.
Robert Lindsay Hooper, 43, died in the early hours of December 4, 2015, after the ute he was travelling in left the road in Ongerup, 410km south-east of Perth, and smashed into a tree, ripping off the passenger side of the vehicle and throwing him from the car.
Rodney Palmer Spencer, 54, is on trial in the District Court of WA this week, charged with dangerous driving causing death, but claims he wasn’t behind the wheel.
The jury heard on Tuesday the pair had been celebrating the end of harvest at the local pub since the late afternoon on the day before the crash.
No one saw them get into the ute when they left. But prosecutor Sean O’Sullivan said the driver could only have been Spencer, who suffered relatively minor injuries and was able to climb out of the vehicle.
Mr O’Sullivan said Mr Hooper wound up pinned under the left rear wheel, sustained injuries to his head, chest, abdomen, left arm and leg, and the damage to the ute was on the vehicle’s left.
The passenger seat was set far back and the victim was a much larger man, standing 33cm taller.
The prosecutor said a barmaid came across the crash on her way home and asked Spencer, who was standing outside the wreck, if he was alright.
Mr O’Sullivan said she would testify he replied: “Yeah, I’ve just had a crash” and “there was no one else in the car”.
Spencer allegedly then said to a paramedic, “I didn’t even know he was in the vehicle. If I had’ve, I wouldn’t have ...” then trailed off.
“It all points one way, the accused man, Mr Spencer, being the driver,” the prosecutor said.
Defence counsel Henry Sklarz said forensic evidence indicated his client was in the back seat. Mr Sklarz said Spencer’s blood was found in that area, including on the back of the driver’s seat.
He could not recall the crash as his brain had “blotted out” the trauma, the lawyer said.
The jury heard on Tuesday the pair had been celebrating the end of harvest at the local pub since the late afternoon.