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Shock jury decision in bike death

A woman who was using her mobile phone just moments before her car struck a bike rider from behind has been found not guilty by a Perth jury.

William Knight James, 76, was killed in the crash at Coolup, south of Perth in June 2017.

Brooke Jane Kau, pleaded not guilty to Dangerous Driving Causing Death in the Perth District Court.

Prosecutors told the Court that Ms Kau had been drinking with friends the night before and sent a number of texts on the morning of the crash that referred to her being not able to drive, extremely red eyed, and vomiting at a service station.

Although tests showed no alcohol in her system, the prosecutions submission was that the rider should have been visible and that Ms Kau was fatigued, distracted and wasn't paying attention when she was driving a vehicle that slammed into Mr James.

"She wasn't looking ahead and it's very likely she was looking down at her phone, sending a text message, at the time of the collision,” prosecutor Rebekah Sleeth told the jury.

The prosecution said the final message Brooke Kau sent from her Samsung Galaxy mobile phone was at 8:18am, just moments before the deadly crash happened.

Ms Kau maintains she pulled over to send that message.

Defence counsel Linda Black said Mr James was wearing dark clothing, had no helmet on and at that time of the morning the trees cast “massive shadows” on the road.

She also said Ms Kau was travelling well below the speed limit.

Ms Black asked the jury to consider whether Mr James may have been next to his bike rather than riding it, and that there may have been a mechanical fault with the bicycle.

"Don't rule out the possibility the bike hit the car," said Ms Black.

It is shocking that such a defence can be raised in an Australian Court in 2019 and reflects badly on the justice system in WA.

The dark clothing argument is equally disturbing. Will it also mean that drivers of black cars will be held responsible for their own deaths when they drive on tree-lined roads?

It’s sickening that lawyers seem to reserve such contentious arguments for cases involving people on bikes. Surely our lives are more valuable and victims like William James deserve more respect.  

 

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