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Magistrate 'perturbed' by wait in babysitter fatal crash case

Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street.
Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street. Marc Stapelberg

A DECISION on whether to proceed with the prosecution of Casino woman Courteney Pearl Matthews over a charge of dangerous driving occasioning death - and in doing so overrule the findings of a magistrate - is still under consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a court has heard.

Matthews, now 19, was excused from appearing in Lismore Local Court yesterday where she was represented by her solicitor Monique Hannigan.

Ms Hannigan told Magistrate David Heilpern the DPP had told her said they needed another four weeks "at least" to weigh up the decision.

Magistrate Heilpern said he was "perturbed" by the delay.

"As I understand it a decision was made by Magistrate (Michael) Dakin, is that decision being appealed?" he said to Mr Woods.

DPP solicitor Mr Woods said the matter was subject to a report to the Director of Public Prosecution's chambers containing "ex-officio accounts" as well as "other dialogue now taking place".

If the DPP decide to proceed, they would take the matter to trial despite Magistrate Dakin finding in September there was not enough evidence to prosecute a dangerous driving charge against Matthews.

Matthews was driving her Mazda 323 on the Bruxner Highway between Lismore and Casino on December 18, 2015 when it hit an oncoming car.

The crash, which split the Mazda in two, caused fatal injuries to one of Matthews' passengers, four-year-old Elle Underhill, whom she was babysitting at the time.

Elle Underhill's parents Steve and Michelle Underhill were present in the courtroom yesterday for the brief mention. Elle's father has given consent for Elle to be identified in the media.

Matthews still remains charged with negligent driving occasioning death over the incident.

The matter returns to Lismore Local Court on December 5 for mention.

Matthews is excused if legally represented.

Topics:  casino courteney matthews elle underhill fatal crash northern rivers court



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