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March 1, 2021

Court considering whether babysitter caused fatal crash

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A magistrate is considering whether there is enough evidence for a babysitter to stand trial over a crash near Casino in 2015 that killed a police officer’s four-year-old daughter.

Courteney Pearl Matthews was excused from appearing at Byron Bay Local Court on Friday June 30 before Magistrate Michael Dakin.

On December 18, 2015, Ms Matthews was driving a red Mazda 323 containing Elle Underhill, 4, her 2-year-old sister, and another seven year-old girl, when her car was torn in half after colliding with a Subaru Liberty on December 18.

Elle’s father Steven, a police officer, was one of the first people on the scene at 1.20pm, on the Summerland Way, about 10km east of Casino.

Despite the valiant efforts of emergency services, Elle died in the crash.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter airlifted the two-year-old to Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital suffering serious injuries and the seven-year-old girl was treated for shock.

The 81-year-old man driving the Subaru was taken to Lismore Base Hospital with an injured sternum.

Ms Matthews, a promising ballerina, was subsequently charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Following a committal hearing at Casino Local Court in April, Mr Dakin agreed to receive written legal arguments from both the prosecution and defence about the case.

On Friday, Mr Dakin said he had received and read the written arguments, News Corporation reported, but there was an issue with some documents subpoenaed from Richmond Valley Council.

Mr Dakin said he had to be sure there was enough evidence to support ‘some element of dangerousness’ in Ms Matthews’ driving before the crash.

‘It seems implicit in the submissions there is no intention of the defendant producing evidence,’ he said.

He adjourned Ms Matthews matters until September 1 at Byron Bay Local Court.

Ms Matthews must be present in court and Mr Dakin said the matter would be given priority.


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