20 February 2024

Currently not enough evidence to find Matthew McLuckie's alleged killer unfit to plead: judge

| Albert McKnight
shakira may adams

Shakira May Adams, aged in her early 20s, attended court on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

There is currently not enough evidence before the courts to find that the woman accused of killing Matthew McLuckie is unfit to plead to her charges, the Territory’s top judge has said.

It is alleged Shakira May Adams had drugs in her system when she drove a stolen Volkswagen on the wrong side of the road at almost 180 km/h before crashing into the 20-year-old’s car on 19 May 2022. He died the next day.

She appeared in the ACT Supreme Court in person on Wednesday (22 November), the first time she has physically been in the courtroom to face her charges for what had been scheduled to be an inquiry on her fitness to plead.

Ms Adams has a traumatic brain injury and the court heard both prosecution and defence had determined she was unfit to enter a plea.

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However, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said it seemed the lawyers may have been “sailing” to an assumption that she would accept their position.

She said she was not persuaded by the material currently before the court – being the reports from two experts and the lawyers’ submissions – that she could make a finding that Ms Adams was not fit to enter a plea on the balance of probabilities.

She had nothing from anyone outside the experts’ field of expertise, she said, like family, while the experts agreed Ms Adams understood the nature of her charges.

Matthew McLuckie died in a car crash on 19 May 2022. Photo: Tom McLuckie.

Chief Justice McCallum also said one of the experts appeared to have insufficient information on a topic and had not considered how the ACT has a “Rolls-Royce” intermediary service for accused persons.

As the prosecution had previously conceded the defence’s position on the fitness to plead question, she said she wanted to give the defence time to seek more material if it wished.

She adjourned until 19 January 2024 for further evidence and argument on the inquiry.

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Ms Adams was charged with manslaughter, culpable driving causing death, aggravated reckless driving, unlicensed driving and driving a motor vehicle without consent.

Afterwards, a question was raised on whether or not she was fit to plead.

In June, the court heard a report on this issue was “somewhat equivocal”, and its author, Dr Anthony Barker, didn’t express a definitive view that she was not fit to plead.

Ms Adams, aged in her early 20s and from Bruce, has been an inpatient at the Canberra Hospital.

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