Cop convicted over woman's highway death loses appeal
A POLICE officer found to have caused a grandmother's death after performing a highway U-turn has lost an appeal against his conviction.
Constable Fabio Armando Mazza, based in Roma, was driving along the Warrego Hwy near Wallumbilla in May 2014.
An investigation found Mazza was travelling at 98kmh when his speed detector locked on to a vehicle travelling the other way at 110kmh.
Steven Smith and his wife Gail were riding a motorbike behind Mazza. And when the constable slowed, veered left, then pulled right, the Smiths crashed.
Mrs Smith died. Her husband was seriously injured.
Last November, Mazza was given a suspended two-year jail sentence at Roma District Court. A jury found him guilty of dangerous driving causing Mrs Smith's death and grievous bodily harm to Mr Smith.
But Mazza argued the jury at his trial should have included the possibility that an overreaction from Mr Smith caused the crash.
He argued the verdict was unreasonable and a miscarriage of justice occurred.
In an appeal judgment handed down on Tuesday, Queensland Court of Appeal said Mazza also tried to disparage the evidence from a person travelling behind the Smiths.
The Smiths, from New South Wales, never actually collided with Mazza. But Justice Robert Gotterson said a jury could be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mazza's driving was dangerous.
"It created a perilous hazard for Mr Smith, his passenger and his motorcycle, at least," the judge said.
And it was "unrealistic and improbable" to suggest an over-reaction from Mr Smith caused the crash.
In Mazza's second ground for appeal, he referred to a page found in the jury room apparently sourced from an online legal dictionary containing references to United States legal theory.
Mazza argued the presence of this page contravened the trial judge's instructions that jurors not access external information without telling the bailiff.
The appeal court was not persuaded this material prevented Mazza from getting a fair trial.
Justice Gotterson was satisfied the jury would have reached the same verdict anyway and dismissed the appeal.
Queensland Police Service suspended Mazza without pay last December.
On Tuesday, a QPS spokesman said Mazza was still suspended without pay "and the discipline investigation was being finalised prior to consideration of discipline action".