4 May 2022

Melba woman died after allegedly falling off bonnet of partner's car

| Albert McKnight
ACT Courts

Michael O’Connell, 42, has been charged with manslaughter after the death of Danielle Fleming in Melba. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A Melba woman who died last month was allegedly seen lying in a pool of blood after her partner, who has since been charged with manslaughter, drove off while she was sitting on the bonnet of his car.

Court documents allege 42-year-old Michael O’Connell got into an argument with 40-year-old Danielle Patricia Fleming, also known as Danielle Jordan, at a home in Melba early in the morning of 15 April 2022.

The couple went outside and Mr O’Connell allegedly got into the driver’s seat of a Mitsubishi Triton parked in the driveway while Ms Fleming sat on its bonnet.

He allegedly started driving off while she was still sitting on the car despite a friend of hers, who had also been at the home, walking in front of it to make him stop.

Ms Fleming allegedly held onto the bonnet as he drove off, accelerating out of the friend’s sight.

“A short time later, [the friend] heard a loud screech of tyres, then a loud thump, which she later described as ‘sounding like something heavy, like a body, hitting the road’,” police allege in the documents.

She ran towards the noise and allegedly saw Ms Fleming lying on the ground in a pool of blood, near the intersection of Alfred Hill Drive and Cade Place, with the Triton stopped nearby.

The friend said Mr O’Connell picked his girlfriend up, with blood covering them both, and put her into his car, then she told him to go to hospital.

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Closed-circuit television captured him arriving at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce at about 4:50 am and carrying her inside. Not long after, he allegedly sent a text to the friend’s mother.

“Just letting you know that Danielle is in hospital she fell from the top of her back steps,” he allegedly said.

He then returned to the home in Melba where he allegedly asked the friend to tell police Ms Fleming had fallen down the back steps, if they asked.

After he was arrested by police, he told them he “saved her”.

“She fell down the stairs so I took her to hospital,” he told them.

Police inspected the back stairs at the Melba home and couldn’t find any blood.

However, they allege they found blood on the Triton’s nudge bar and damage to its bonnet.

Mr O’Connell later told police Ms Fleming had jumped onto the canvas-covered tray of the Triton when the car had stopped, then she fell off onto the road, injuring her head, and he denied driving while she was on the bonnet.

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He also said to police that he had told people she fell down stairs to protect her reputation.

Police allege he had driven with her on the bonnet for at least 270 metres. They said she died overnight while in hospital.

Mr O’Connell, from Monash, has not entered pleas to charges that include manslaughter and perverting the course of justice.

He appeared over the phone in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (3 May), where Magistrate James Stewart adjourned the matter and listed it for a forensic procedure application.

Mr O’Connell was remanded in custody to 10 May.

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