Update to Tasmanian DPP conviction for negligent driving

Tim Ellis, the Tasmanian DPP convicted by a Hobart Magistrate of negligent driving in June 2014 has appealed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.

According to The Examiner he argues several grounds including:

  • a wrongful finding by the Magistrate that Ellis’ defence was that he was at all times “utterly unconscious” during a 1.5 kilometre stretch of road which involved a bend
  • the magistrate failing to give enough weight to the evidence of a sleep expert Dr Hugh Mestitz who testified that it was plausible for Ellis to have steered with minor adjustments while half asleep.

It is reported also that there was no evidence of braking or evasion before the fatal collision which killed Natalia Pearn, the driver of the vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

The ABC has reported delays to the hearing of the appeal due to extraordinary circumstances such as:

  • the refusal of Tasmanian Judges to hear the appeal due to their previous regular dealings with Ellis
  • the withdrawal from the Defence team by Michael O’Farrell QC due to having accepted an appointment as Tasmania’s new Solicitor-General

Retired Victorian judge Justice David Harper QC has been appointed acting judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania. The appeal is likely to commence in November this year.

There is no doubt this is a very sad case with potentially tragic consequences for both Ellis and the grieving family and friends of Natalia Pearn. Any further delay is likely to compound the suffering of all concerned.

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