Sentencing over fatal hit and run delayed after legal error
The family of a man who was killed during an alleged fatal hit and run on the Far North Coast were never consulted before the driver responsible pleaded guilty to the agreed facts of the case, a court has heard.
Graham Belcher, 52, was set to be sentenced in Lismore District Court on Wednesday for dangerous driving causing death and grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist.
The British man was driving a blue 2019 Hyundai i30 when he collided with two motorcyclists on Tweed Valley Way near Tumbulgum, on September 2, 2019.
A 39-year-old Gold Coast man, Scott Rose, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other motorcyclist was taken to Tweed Hospital with chest injuries.
The court heard that after fleeing the scene, the Gold Coast-based British man, was arrested at Brisbane International Airport trying to board a one-way flight to the United Kingdom hours after the incident, according to court documents.
He remains bail refused since his arrest.
The Crown Prosecutor told the court on Wednesday she had spoken with the officer in charge of the case that morning to show her the agreed facts, which was "part of the etiquette" of sentencing.
But when the officer told her it was the "first time she had seen" the document, the Crown Prosecutor said an "alarm" went off in her mind that potentially proper protocol hadn't been undertaken ahead of Belcher's pleas being entered last year before the court.
The prosecutor said she then spoke with the Mr Rose's family and the other victim to see if they'd seen the facts, but they hadn't until Wednesday morning for the first time.
"Obviously there are things that need to be explained (about the agreed facts) and what the significance (of the agreed facts means)," the prosecutor said.
"The Crown and the Director has failed in his duty … to consult."
The prosecutor said an adjournment must be granted to allow the police, Mr Rose's family and the other victim to be consulted about the agreed facts.
"(And) it would be in the Crown's submission denying justice (for Belcher) in the fullest extent on the basis there had not been a consultation and an explanation of the facts," she said.
Judge Dina Yehia agreed to an adjournment but said she was cautious there might be issues moving forward once the various parties viewed the agreed facts.
"I don't know where this will lead, I will certainly give the Crown an opportunity to have this matter explored," Judge Yehia said.
"I take it the pleas of guilty were entered on the agreed facts, (and if) the facts are no longer agreed on to the point of view of the Crown, I don't know where it would lead."
Judge Yehia listed the matter for mention on March 31 in Sydney District Court to allow both parties time to decide if there are any issues moving forward to sentencing.
"If the facts are going to be the same, then the matter can be listed for sentence," she said.