ADJOURNED: Truck driver accused of a hit-and-run had his case postponed at Warwick District Court yesterday.
ADJOURNED: Truck driver accused of a hit-and-run had his case postponed at Warwick District Court yesterday. Warwick Daily News Archives

Judge postpones hit and run trial over holiday concerns

THE trial of a truck driver accused of killing a cyclist in a hit and run has again been postponed after a judge raised concerns about clashing holiday plans.

The Warwick District Court sittings got under way yesterday morning.

Judge Gregory Koppenol moved swiftly into the first item on the agenda.

Due to fly to Europe on Saturday, June 25, the day after the trial was due to conclude, the judge asked the prosecution and defence teams how long the trial was likely to take.

Five weeks overseas and two in Hervey Bay was the expected lag time if the trial ran over time.

Geoffrey Joseph Sleba, accused of driving the truck that struck Dr Martin Pearson, sat in the dock as the lawyers gave time estimations for their cases.

Dr Pearson was participating in a cycling event on Anzac Day in 2014 when police allege the 61-year-old was hit and left for dead on Inglewood- Millmerran Rd.

An earlier trial for Sleba, of Kingsthorpe, began in October last year but was postponed after only a day when the defence team said new evidence had been brought forward by the Crown.

Yesterday, defence barrister Peter Davis QC expressed an eagerness to continue, but was concerned that should the case remain unfinished, the jury would have to be discharged.

Prosecutor Clare Kelly said the Crown was also keen to deal with the matter.

"It's over three years ago now that the event occurred," she said.

"A large body of witnesses has been marshalled."

Potential jurors who had been gathered for the trial waited patiently outside the courthouse while the decision was made.

While acknowledging a lot of effort had gone into preparation, Judge Koppenol concluded it best not to start the trial.

The 46-year-old defendant sat shaking his head.

"I agree with you, Mr Sleba," Judge Koppenol said.

"You want this over and the court wants this matter over."

A spokeswoman from the District Court said trials "bounce around all the time".

"No trial is ever set in cement," she said.

"You don't know how long the jury is going to take, you can't put pressure on a jury.

"It is end-of-term break so a lot of judges won't start trials now."

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg noted situations such as this were frustrating for both the prosecution and the defendant.

"I do think when it comes to matters like this, when we only have a certain number of sittings of the District Court in the area, that there does need to be a process of more effective administration for those who set the court dates," Mr Springborg said. "If improvements are needed, then the chief judge needs to consider those matters."

The matter will be mentioned again in Brisbane District Court on June 23.



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