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No plea from Casino babysitter in fatal crash case

Courteney Pearl Matthews leaves Lismore Local Court during a previous court appearance. File photo.
Courteney Pearl Matthews leaves Lismore Local Court during a previous court appearance. File photo. Hamish Broome

A CASINO babysitter accused of dangerous driving causing the death of the four-year-old daughter of a local police sergeant has yet to enter a plea.

Courteney Matthews was excused from appearing in Lismore Local Court today as the negotiation period between her lawyers and the prosecution over the agreed facts of the case dragged into its fourth month.

The court process is being watched closely by the family of Elle Underhill, daughter of Casino police sergeant Steve Underhill and his wife Michelle.

Elle was a passenger, along with two other young girls, in a car Matthews was driving in December last year when it crashed into another car on the Bruxner Hwy between Casino and Lismore.

She later tragically died as a result of the injuries sustained in the collision.

Matthews, 19, is facing charges of dangerous driving occasioning death, dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning death, and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Mr and Mrs Underhill were in the court today, along with about 10 supporters, and appeared solemn about the ongoing delays.

They refused to comment to the media as they silently left the court arm in arm.

During the court mention, Matthews' solicitor Monique Hannigan told Magistrate David Heilpern that police had served two lots of further material on the defence since negotiations began, without advance notification from the Department of Public Prosecution.

Magistrate Heilpern noted the long negotiation period given to the parties had still failed to resolve the issues.

Matthews' lawyers are also trying to access documents from Roads and Maritime Services and Richmond Valley Council via subpoena in preparation for a potential trial.

But both the RMS and the council have some documents considered "privileged" and off limits.

As a result Magistrate Heilpern ordered that both the defence and the prosecution be provided a schedule of those privileged documents.

The matter was adjourned to February 21 for another mention.

Topics:  casino courteney matthews elle underhill lismore local court



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