Tradie wins legal battle over runaway trolley motorway crash

A TRADIE has successfully fought a traffic conviction thrown at him after a trolley escaped from the back of his van and caused a crash on the Ipswich Mwy.

The Queensland Court of Appeal yesterday found an Ipswich magistrate erred in convicting William Alistair Johnson for failing to give way, and that the district court should not have upheld the decision.

Mr Johnson had pulled over on the motorway shoulder about 8.40am on October 18, 2011, to obtain directions. He then waited a lengthy period of time before finding a suitable gap in the traffic.

He had claimed there was ample room, 15 to 20 car lengths, for him to pull into the traffic and that he accelerated hard.


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Justice John Muir said Mr Johnson recalled the back door of his van "flung open" while he was in third gear and not yet going "that fast".

He said Dr Konstantinos, who was travelling behind with a nurse, told the court he had to brake as the van moved out to avoid hitting it and then "really had to brake" to avoid the trolley.

Justice Muir said the truck driver involved gave "irrelevant" evidence about seeing the doctor's car manoeuvring and stopping on an angle before he hit it, and the trolley hit his windscreen.

He and two other justices found the decisions were made following significant errors of law "such that in neither case was there a determination on the merits applying the correct principles".

Justice Muir said Mr Johnson had been considerably inconvenienced throughout the unduly protracted first hearing as he quashed the conviction.

"The substantial body of irrelevant and peripherally relevant evidence may well have distracted the magistrate from her proper task," he said.

"There was undue concentration on the evidence of (the truck driver) concerning his reactions and the role of the trolley in the collision between his truck and the doctor's car. The magistrate erred in concluding that it could not be safe for a driver to proceed if, as a result of his or her pulling into traffic flowing at 80kmh on a motorway, a vehicle was obliged to brake to avoid a collision.

"The question to be decided was whether it was safe for the van to proceed."

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