11 September 2022

Speed is crucial evidence in case against man accused of murdering 'soul mate'

| Albert McKnight
Law Court

Michael O’Connell, 42, is in custody charged with murder. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The speed a man was driving when his “soul mate” allegedly fell off his car and later died will be a crucial factor in the murder case against him, a court has heard.

Michael O’Connell is charged with murdering his 40-year-old partner Danielle Patricia Jordan, a person he previously described as “the love of [his] life” when pleading not guilty.

Ms Jordan was allegedly seen lying in a pool of blood after Mr O’Connell had driven off while she was sitting on the bonnet of his car in Melba on Easter Friday 2022.

On Tuesday (6 September), Legal Aid lawyer Mr Chen asked for the case to be committed to the ACT Supreme Court for trial, but Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC said he was not ready to commit the case as he was waiting on the most important piece of evidence for it.

This was the speed the car was travelling when Ms Jordan fell from it and would go to the mens rea of the charge, which relates to intent.

“We know directions, we know timing, it’s those crucial calculations of the speed,” Mr Drumgold told the ACT Magistrates Court.

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Mr Chen said his client “truly believes that he is not guilty of murder”, never intended to kill someone he described as his “soul mate” and wanted to move the matter along seeing as he was held in custody over it.

He also said if the matter wasn’t committed soon, then his client may have to wait longer for a trial.

“There’s no reason why my client needs to pay the cost of the prosecution having the luxury to review their own charge,” Mr Chen said.

Magistrate James Stewart said at the very least the court was dealing with an alleged serious piece of driving that resulted in a fatality and he was not sure Mr O’Connell could expect to leave custody anytime soon even if the charge was downgraded.

He said it was clear the interests of justice required a speedy resolution, but was not confident a three-week adjournment for a crucial piece of evidence would delay the chances of a trial early next year.

He remanded Mr O’Connell in custody and adjourned the matter to 27 September.

“No worries, your honour,” Mr O’Connell said over the phone.

Facts originally tendered to the court before the murder charge was laid allege Mr O’Connell got into an argument with Ms Jordan, who was also known as Danielle Fleming, at a home in Melba early in the morning of 15 April 2022.

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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 Jordan 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 Jordan 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 Jordan lying on the ground in a pool of blood, near the intersection of Alfred Hill Drive and Cade Place, with the Triton stopped nearby.

Police said she died overnight while in hospital.

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