Steve and Michelle Underhill outside Lismore Court today.
Steve and Michelle Underhill outside Lismore Court today. Northern Star

Fatal crash case: Moves to overrule magistrate's decision

AN APPEAL has been lodged with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions over the dropping of serious charges against a Casino woman allegedly responsible for a fatal car crash which killed a four-year-old girl in her care.

Last month a magistrate elected to drop the charge of dangerous driving occasioning death against Courteney Pearl Matthews, 20.

On December 18, 2015, the then 19-year-old was driving a Mazda 323 on the Bruxner Highway between Lismore and Casino when it was involved in a collision with an oncoming car, tragically killing four-year-old Elle Underhill who Matthews was babysitting at the time.

She was later charged over the incident.

But after a lengthy committal hearing process which started in April this year, on September 2 Magistrate Dakin found there was not enough evidence to pursue the dangerous driving charges against Matthews, and discharged her.

Matthews still faces the lesser charge of negligent driving occasioning death.

However, Lismore Local Court heard this morning it was heard that the local DPP had lodged a report for the Office of the DPP to consider "ex-officio accounts" in relation to the charge of dangerous driving occasioning death.

This is essentially a request for the Director to overrule Magistrate Dakin's findings.

If it agrees with the report the ODPP has the power to take the matter directly to trial.

It's understood the report was authored by local DPP solicitor and includes signed accounts from the victim's family.

Matthews has yet to enter a plea to any of the charges and did not appear in court this morning.

She was represented in court by her solicitor Monique Hannigan.

Magistrate R Denes noted an additional charge was yet to be formally served on Matthews and ordered the DPP to do so.

Magistrate Denes adjourned the matter to allow time for the ODPP to consider their options.

It will return to Lismore Local Court on November 7.

Matthews was again excused from appearing.



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