'Family angry at new delay, testimony in fatal car crash differs'


Family members of a car crash victim, Sharon Maher, broke down yesterday with the news of another delay in the prosecution of the other driver. Mrs Maher and her 13 year-old son Daniel were killed in a head-on collision 18 months ago. Her eight-year old daughter Melinda was also seriously injured.

Mrs Maher, 31, was on her way to the Newcastle Show with her children that morning, just outside Clarence Town. Gary Maxwell Hugo, 51, was driving home from Bendolba near Dungog, from Sydney Airport with his wife Anne and his daughter. The agreed facts are that Hugo was driving on the wrong side of the road when he crashed into Mrs Maher's car as she came over the crest of a hill on Clarence Town Road.
It is alleged that Hugo pulled out over broken lines to overtake the car in front of him and then tried to overtake a second car. Once he had passed the first car he did not pull back in, travelling for about 100 metres on the wrong side of the road over unbroken lines, Newcastle District Court heard yesterday. Crown Prosecutor Gary Corr said evidence would show that Hugo had plenty of time and room to move back to the correct side of the road after passing the first car.
Mr Corr said two police officers questioned Hugo in hospital on the night of the accident and Hugo had said:
"I thought they were going slowly, and I thought that I could get around them". While Hugo has pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death and one of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, he says he was not attempting to overtake when the collision occurred. Hugo told the court yesterday that after pulling out to overtake the first car, he dozed off or was in a state of semi-consciousness.
The matter has already twice been set down for a trial, with Hugo pleading guilty to the start of the second trial in June. The matter has now been adjourned to next week for the matter to be set down for a hearing in Sydney. Outside the court, Mrs Maher's mother, Mary McEvoy, said her other children had taken time off work to be in court to see the matter completed. This is unbelievable, "Mrs McEvoy said.

© 2004 Newcastle Newspapers Pty. Ltd