Crash driver may be suing wrong body

A FORMER Norwood man who is suing the West Tamar Council over a fatal crash that happened more than 18 years ago has been advised to check that he is taking action against the right statutory body.
Nanjing Night Net

Part of the claim made by West Australian Matthew Guest rests on the absence of adequate warning signs on Rowsphorn Road at Riverside, which the council’s lawyer, Shaun McElwaine, said were actually the responsibility of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources.

Associate Justice Stephen Holt advised Mr Guest’s counsel, Mike Smith, to check the claim.

The preliminary hearing heads into its final day at the Launceston Magistrates Court today.

“If you have sued the wrong person, it’s probably best to tell me that sooner rather than later,” Associate Justice Stephen Holt said.

Retired police sergeant Mike Davis told the court yesterday that by his calculations Mr Guest was driving at 70km/h when he crested the hill at Rowsphorn Road on June 8, 1994.

Mr Davis was the lead investigator in the crash that killed Justin Holmes-Berkeley, 19, and Samuel Greer, 18, and left Mr Guest, then 18 years old, with a broken collarbone and other injuries.

He said the car had driven over the hill, hit the traffic island and then slid out of control on its roof, coming to rest upside-down in a drain 100 metres down the hill.

He said he did not think the car had become airborne at the top of the 18-degree slope before hitting the traffic island but couldn’t rule it out.

Mr Davis said he and another police officer drove down the hill five times at different speeds after the crash, accelerating up to 80km/h, and the wheels of the police car did not leave the ground.

“When I came over, I knew what was there and I stayed more to the left (to avoid the traffic island),” he said.

“When this car (driven by Mr Guest) came over, if you put the rule on it, it was travelling in a straight line and it’s gone toward the island.”

Mr Guest told the court on Wednesday that he had not driven along Rowsphorn Road before the crash and had no warning of what was coming.

Mr Davis agreed with Mr McElwaine that there was a sign near the intersection of Stephensdale Avenue that warned of a steep descent one kilometre ahead.

But he said it was not easy to see at night and a driver could miss it if not concentrating.

Psychiatrist Ernst De Jong told the court that he had 12 consultations with Mr Guest from 2008 to 2010, and diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Consultant psychiatrist Eric Radcliffe said Mr Guest’s lack of motivation to pursue legal action sooner could be attributed to avoidance, a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Guest said on Wednesday that he did not know legal action was an option available to him until 2011.

The preliminary hearing is to determine whether Mr Guest’s injury justifies legal action.

Matthew Guest at the Supreme Court in Launceston yesterday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.