Broken Head crash driver pleads not guilty

A YOUNG man whose four mates died when the car he was driving crashed near Byron Bay in October, 2006, yesterday pleaded not guilty in Lismore District Court to four charges of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death.

The man, who was 17 when the crash occurred and is now 18, and the four young men who were killed, cannot be named for legal reasons, after District Court Judge Charteris, QC, applied a suppression order to their names.

Judge Charteris noted the man's plea and offered sympathy to the families of the dead teens and to the accused.

“This is truly tragic for the accused before the court and the families of the young people who lost their lives,” Judge Charteris said.

“I cannot imagine what it must be like, not just for the immediate family, but for also those who knew them.

“Those who lose their children, it is itself a life sentence. There truly are no winners.”

Family and friends of both the driver of the car and the four dead teenagers, who packed the gallery of the court, listened as the driver was read each charge.

The charges against the youth allege that on October 22, 2006, at Broken Head, he drove a Holden Commodore sedan in dangerous manner at more than 45km/h above the legal limit of 80km/h and that the car was involved in an impact causing the deaths of each of the four passengers.

In a clear and confident voice the driver answered the charges: “Not guilty.”

In legal discussions the Crown prosecutor said there had been a lot of publicity at the time of the crash, but the level of publicity on the case had since reduced.

“The young boys were well-known and popular figures and their funerals attracted hundreds of people,” he said.

The trial is expected to take two to three weeks.

After the jury panel is chosen today legal argument will continue over which evidence will be admissible.

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