TRAGEDY: The scene of the crash on the Summerland Way at Dilkoon where a woman in her 60s died after the car being driven by her husband ran off the road.
TRAGEDY: The scene of the crash on the Summerland Way at Dilkoon where a woman in her 60s died after the car being driven by her husband ran off the road. Clair Morton

'That's my wife, help her': Court hears husband's plea

TIREDNESS while behind the wheel might have been a contributing factor to a crash that left a woman in her 60s dead and her husband in the dock at District Court in Grafton.

The jury in the trial of Geoffrey John Byron, 74, of Macksville, heard the accused say in an electronically recorded interview with police that he was feeling tired and would have stopped except he was "so close to Grafton".

On April 19, 2017, Mr Byron was driving his wife's 1999 Daihatsu Pyzar station wagon back from Queensland where their son had repaired it, with his wife, Beverley Byron, the only passenger in the car. It left the road and crashed into a tree between 12.30pm and 12.50pm at Dilkoon, 25km north of Grafton.

Mr Byron has pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a manner dangerous and negligent driving occasioning death.

The court heard from four police witnesses: two general duties constables from Grafton Police, who were among the first on the crash scene and two officers from the Far North Coast Crash Investigation Unit.

Senior Constable Richard Beresford described what he saw when he arrive at the scene with another officer about 1pm.

He said he could see the car about facing north down a steep embankment, with serious damage to the front passenger side.

He said he could hear the trapped female passenger in the car crying out "my legs, my legs".

The officer said he spoke to a man who identified himself as Mr Byron, who said, "that's my wife, help her, help her."

Mr Byron was complaining of chest pains and Sen Const Beresford sat him in his police car until an ambulance arrived. It was later found he had a fractured sternum and a broken rib.

The policeman said before the ambulance arrived a woman was with Mrs Byron, talking to her.

He said about 2pm ambulance officers told him the woman had died. He returned to his car to tell Mr Byron the news, but an ambulance had taken him to Lismore Base Hospital.

Sen Const Adrian Lanyon, from the crash investigation unit said his reading of the scene showed the station wagon was travelling south when it came to a 17-degree right-hand bend in the road.

The car went straight ahead, left the road and struck the base of a large eucalypt about three metres from the road, spun and came to rest facing north down a steep embankment. A stand of trees stopped it sliding further down the embankment.

During the recorded interview played to the court, Mr Byron described how they had left Brisbane that morning and stopped at Kyogle to rest for about 30 minutes.

He said he had felt fine with no sign of tiredness, even when going through Casino about 15 minutes earlier.

During cross examination of Sen Const Beresford, defence barrister John Carty, asked if a witness, Glen Johnson, said Mr Byron had told him he must have fallen asleep.

"Yes," the officer said.

The trial continues today with the Crown to call two civilian witnesses.



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