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Christopher Robert Palmer found not guilty of driving dangerously

Christopher Robert Palmer found not guilty of driving dangerously TRAGEDY: The scene of the crash on Maitland Vale Road, Maitland Vale on October 7, 2015. Rory Sayce, a passenger in the car, died instantly. The driver Christoper Palmer was on Tuesday found not guilty of driving dangerously.
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Rory Sayce.

TweetFacebookCHRISTOPHER Robert Palmer was not driving dangerously when he lost control of his car on the notorious Maitland Vale Road S-bend, causing it to fishtail left and right, roll onto its side and hit a large tree, killing his mate, Rory Sayce.

After a week-long trial in Newcastle District Court a jury took a little over an hour on Tuesday afternoonto find Palmer, 28, of Singleton, not guilty ofdangerous driving occasioning death and dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Palmer, who was represented by barrister Peter Harper,showed littleemotion as the foreperson delivered the verdicts.

But there were tears from members of Mr Sayce’s family in the public gallery.

Mr Harper had told the jury that Palmer, who was on his provisional licence at the time of the crash,accepted responsibility forlosing control of the car, the death of his friend and the injuries to the other passengers.

But the central issue at the trial was whether or not Palmer was driving dangerously when he lost control on the “insidious” Maitland Vale Road S-bend about 11.15pm on October 7, 2015.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell had contended that Palmer had failed to properly negotiate the right hand corner at the end of the S-bend and was “simply going too fast”.

But the jury must have disagreed, and rejected at least some of the crucial evidence from the three surviving passengers in the car, who said they told Palmer to “slow down” and warned him about “two bad corners coming up”.

The jury also heard from two crash investigation experts, who differed in their opinion on whether or not “excessive speed” was a contributing factor in the crash.

During his opening address last week, Mr Harper had foreshadowed that if found not guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death, then his client would plead guilty to the back-up charge ofnegligent driving occasioning death, which involves a lesser degree offault and carries a lesser maximum penalty.

And once the jury was discharged, Mr Harper did just that.Palmer will be sentenced for negligent driving occasioning death on June 8.

A number of other back-up offences remain before the courts.

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