Crash death ac­cused de­nies he was driver

Albany Extra - - News -

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.

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