Charged with killing mate
GOONELLABAH man Matthew Ronald Bell was a friend of the man he allegedly killed in a hit and run car accident early Sunday morning.
Bell, the alleged driver in the fatality, was yesterday released on bail after appearing in Lismore Local Court.
Bell's close friend, Samuel John Hollingworth, died after being struck by a Holden Commodore at 1.20am, Sunday, on Ballina Road, near the busy High Street intersection at Lismore Heights.
Bell appeared before Magistrate Nick Reimer yesterday and entered no plea against charges of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a dangerous manner and driving while his licence was suspended.
He was arrested and charged at his Goonellabah home five hours after the accident.
Bail was granted on condition he report to Lismore Police station daily and that he not contact non-family witnesses.
However, police prosecutors argued against the decision.
Prosecution opposed Bell's bail because of the seriousness of the offence, the fact he had a lengthy criminal history and had the potential to interfere with prosecution witnesses.
In papers handed to the court the prosecution argued Bell had a risk of flight, evidenced by the fact he fled the scene of the crime and failed to surrender to police.
As well, threats had been made against him by Hollingworth's family.
Outside the court Bell's family offered no comment to waiting media.
Bell fled the courthouse ahead of his supporters, hoping to escape press photographers.
Meanwhile, Bell's long-time friend Dave Thomas, of Ballina, said the accident 'shouldn't have happened'.
"It was definitely an accident," he said.
"Both families support Matt in this."
Back at the scene of Sunday morning's drama, flowers and notes were pasted to a power pole.
"Though we didn't know him we were still there to try and help him," said one heartfelt letter signed by three girls.
"To all his family and friends we are sorry for your tragic loss.
"I'm sure he was a great person and he will always be loved and still stay in many hearts!"
Bell's case was adjourned until April 8.