Key dashcam footage sheds light on fatal crash

Evidence indicates a Townsville teacher was speeding on a major road in the moments before a crash claimed her life, a court has heard.

Lawyers representing the young man charged over her death have applied to cross examine key witnesses at a committal hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Aitkenvale State School teacher Julie Hatton, 62, was on her way to work on September 10, 2019, when her sedan and a turning ute collided at the intersection of Woolcock and Weston streets, less than a minute from her home. The driver of the ute, Aaron Joshua McRae, then 18, was on his way to TAFE when the two vehicles collided.

 

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Mr McRae was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death. Police allege he "grossly failed" to properly assess the situation and drove dangerously leading to her death.

Defence barrister Justin Greggery QC appeared in the Townsville Magistrates Court on Wednesday on Mr McRae's behalf.

He told the court the case against Mr McRae "would not amount to dangerous driving" and applied to cross examine the woman Mrs Hatton overtook just prior to the crash, as well as the police officer who led the forensic crash investigation.

Julie Hatton.
Julie Hatton.

Mr Greggery said it was important for the defence to cross examine the driver to establish the speed and distance of Mrs Hatton's car in the moments before the crash to establish how long Mr McRae had to decide what to do.

"That of course is the crux of the prosecution case, that he had the time to properly assess the situation and he failed to do so," he said.

Mr Greggery applied to cross examine the lead police investigator, noting what he described as a "limited" investigation, which lacked analysis of speed and skid marks.

In a statement to police the driver who was overtaken said she knew she was travelling at the speed limit of 100km/h just before the crash because she had set her cruise control.

In order to overtake her, Mrs Hatton would have had to exceed the speed limit.

Michelle Graham with husband Nathan, and Holly, 13, and Abbey, 11. at the memorial for her mother Julie who was killed in a car accident near the intersection of Weston Street and Woolcock Street. Picture: Evan Morgan
Michelle Graham with husband Nathan, and Holly, 13, and Abbey, 11. at the memorial for her mother Julie who was killed in a car accident near the intersection of Weston Street and Woolcock Street. Picture: Evan Morgan

Dashcam footage from two passing semi-trailers captured the exact moment the vehicles collided and has shed further light on the incident.

Referring to a crash analysis report from engineer Roger Kahler, Mr Greggery said after overtaking the other driver, Mrs Hatton changed lanes.

"Mr McRae looks to his left, sees (Mrs Hatton's) Subaru in the left-hand lane. Sees also the semi-trailers moving into the slip lane, which he will merge with as he crosses," Mr Greggery said.

"His attention is also towards Weston Street because another vehicle has crossed ahead of him.

The crash. Picture: Alix Sweeney
The crash. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"He proceeds slowly into the right-hand lane waiting for the Subaru to proceed through the juncture in the left-hand lane but unbeknown to him the Subaru has moved."

Mr Greggery said that the engineer's report noted that the situation was "irrecoverable" about 1.5-2 seconds before the collision.

Prosecutor Liam Wise objected to the defence application to cross examine both witnesses.

Magistrate Ken Taylor adjourned the matter for a date to be fixed to determine the application.

Originally published as Key dashcam footage sheds light on fatal crash



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