DEATH DRIVER WILL FACE TRIAL
By HELEN JACK
IT'S a night that will remain in the memories of Northern Rivers people for a long time.
And, for the first time this week, details of what happened in the accident that killed Paul Morris, Corey New, Mitch Eveleigh and Bryce Wells have been revealed.
The events leading up to the tragedy began around 3pm on Saturday, October 21, when about nine youths (the exact number is not determined) gathered on Crozier Oval, in Lismore, to socialise and drink.
Eight of the youths, one of whom was Paul Morris, later decided to travel to Byron Bay in a red Commodore owned by one of them.
Three of the youths rode in the boot of the car. They reached the top car park at Byron Bay's Main Beach at around 8.30pm with some of the youths drinking during the trip.
A witness told Lismore Children's Court on Monday that he arrived at the top car park in Byron Bay about the same time and met the people who had arrived there from Lismore.
They were in two cars, a red Commodore and a white one. The witness said the youths in the red car, other than the driver, were moderately-to-well affected by alcohol.
It is not known if other passengers of the white car Corey New, Mitch Eveleigh or Bryce Wells were affected by alcohol. Close to midnight the youths decided to leave Byron Bay and head to Lennox Head to meet with other friends.
But before they left, an argument broke out over a spare seat in the white car.
In a fateful decision Paul Morris, who had arrived in Byron Bay in the boot of the red Commodore, claimed the space.
Passengers of the red car asked the driver of the white Commodore to travel behind them.
But as the convoy reached the junction of Beach Road and Broken Head Road, the white Commodore sped by, overtaking on double unbroken lines, on an S-bend. The car then disappeared from sight.
Soon afterwards, as the red car came round the next bend, its passengers saw broken tree branches and glass strewn across the road. The driver had to swerve to miss the debris.
A passenger spotted the tail lights of the white car down the embankment and called for them to stop.
The driver and passengers from the red car ran to help those in the wrecked car, calling out to them. But the only person to respond was the driver.
He had smashed a window to escape the vehicle and staggered up the embankment.
The others asked him what had happened. Witnesses said he replied he didn't know, but he thought a tyre had blown.
"I was holding on to the steering wheel as tight as I could but I couldn't turn," the driver is alleged to have%said. He then collapsed on the roadway.
The witnesses tried to help the passengers in the crashed car Corey, Mitchell, Bryce and Paul.
In court, witnesses cried and family members sobbed as the story of the tragic night was recounted.
They heard how the youths had attempted to free Paul Morris, who was still alive, from his seat belt with one witness saying he called for a knife to cut him free.
Tests later showed the driver of the white Commodore had no alcohol or drugs in his blood at the time.
Instead, the hearing was told, a mix of wet weather, speed and blown tyre are likely to have been the cause of the accident