8 November 2022

Woman accused of running over man at Mount Ainslie lookout, then not calling for help

| Albert McKnight
Mount Ainslie lookout

A woman is facing a hearing accused of running over a man near the Mount Ainslie lookout. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A driver is fighting charges stemming from accusations she ran over a man at the Mount Ainslie lookout, leaving him with major injuries, and didn’t stop to call for help.

The 26-year-old man had been found in the middle of the road around 11 pm on 3 June 2021, the ACT Magistrates Court heard at the start of the defendant’s hearing on Monday (7 November).

Prosecutor Morgan Howe said that he had been left with life-threatening injuries, including an injury to his brain, a collapsed lung and bone fractures. The injuries were so serious that he had no memory of the incident.

Mr Howe said the man and his girlfriend had been drinking that night before they drove to the lookout and argued about their relationship.

He alleged the defendant also drove there with her passenger, parked nearby and they started continuously honking their horn.

He said this annoyed the man’s girlfriend, so the man got out of their car, walked to the defendant’s and bashed on one of her windows, saying they “needed to go”.

The defendant allegedly reversed, then drove forwards and away from the lookout, but at some point is alleged to have run the man over.

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Mr Howe alleged that when the passenger tried to call Triple Zero because she was worried they had hit the man, the defendant told her not to make the call.

He alleged that at no point did the defendant try to contact emergency services.

He said she messaged her passenger the next day, allegedly saying, “I reversed back and he stepped out in front of the car”, and she had “panicked” when he came towards her.

Mr Howe alleged she had known the man was in front of her car but still drove forwards and made no genuine attempt to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

Barrister Kieran Ginges, appearing for the defendant, said much of Mr Howe’s opening remarks would not be disputed, but whether the man was in front of the car or came from the side was something that would be.

He argued the man had been highly intoxicated, and the last time his girlfriend had seen him, he was acting aggressively while he marched towards the other car.

Mr Ginges also argued that every other reasonable hypothesis of what could have happened that night had to be excluded. For instance, the man could have tripped and fallen when he was near the car’s wheels.

The man’s girlfriend was the first witness called and admitted it had been “pretty foggy” and “very dark” at the lookout that night. She said she had been drunk, but her boyfriend hadn’t been as drunk as her.

The girlfriend said when a car arrived and started honking its horn, she asked her boyfriend, “Why is this car honking so much?” so he got out and went to have a look.

She said she lost sight of him, heard shouting and then saw the other car leave. She said she got out to look for him when he didn’t return and found him lying in the middle of the road, unresponsive and struggling to breathe.

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In cross-examination, she admitted telling police she thought her boyfriend was angry when he got out of the car.

The defendant’s passenger also testified and said they left the lookout after someone appeared and started bashing on her window.

She said she did not see this person again that night and didn’t feel or hear the car hit anything.

The passenger also said she had tried to call Triple Zero because she didn’t understand what had just happened.

When she spoke to police a month after the alleged incident, she told them she had tried to call Triple Zero before the defendant told her to “hang up”.

In court, she said she didn’t remember whether the defendant had told her to hang up when calling Triple Zero, but accepted her memory of the alleged incident was better when she spoke to police.

In cross-examination, Mr Ginges suggested what had been a “fun lark” had turned into “something out of a horror movie” when the man bashed on her window and the passenger agreed, saying she had been “really, really scared” and “didn’t know what was going on”.

The defendant, who is fighting charges of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and driver not stopping to give assistance, cannot be named as Magistrate James Stewart made a non-publication order preventing her from being identified.

The hearing is expected to continue on Tuesday.

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