Woman found not guilty in fatal Ipswich carpark crash
IPSWICH mum Nyala Petherick Johnston was found not guilty in a jury verdict after a trial alleging she dangerously operated a motor vehicle causing the death of a woman in a Booval carpark.
Following the two-day trial in the District Court at Ipswich, the jury also found Ms Johnston not guilty of a lesser offence of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle on November 19, 2015.
The verdict was given in less than four hours.
In the Crown case, Ms Yupin Wanput O'Dwyer, 33, a restaurant worker at Thai Silver Key, died after she was struck by a runaway Ford Falcon that rolled down a slope.
It had been left parked by Ms Johnston when she got out to visit a nail technician at a beautician's salon.
Prosecutor David Finch in the police investigation had concluded Ms Johnston failed to put the park brake on and left the automatic lever in drive, not park.
The car was on a slight slope and after she walked to the salon the Ford silently ran backwards, increasing speed before striking and killing Ms Wanput beside industrial bins at the end of the driveway.
Walking back into the courtroom to hear the verdict, then turning from the dock, Ms Johnston said "thank you so much" to about a dozen of her family and friends for coming to support her.
When the two not guilty verdicts were read out by the jury foreman, there was audible relief.
And when Judge Douglas McGill SC formerly discharged Ms Johnston some supporters clapped.
"Thank you everyone," Ms Johnston said tearfully as she walked out with her husband.
During the trial, the Brassall woman frequently broke down sobbing.
Judge McGill allowed breaks in the proceedings to allow her time to recover.
Ms Johnston was defended by barrister Tony Glynn QC, whose argument included she was not criminally responsible because she got out of the car in the belief the hand brake was on and the automatic gear lever in park and that it had been an omission to do something and she left the car in the belief that it was safe.
Footage from security cameras showed the Ford Falcon rolling down the slope by the time Ms Johnston was entering the the salon.
She did not see or hear it, only alerted to the tragic event when a woman ran into the salon.
The footage also depicts what were to be the last minutes of Ms Wanput's life as she went about her chores, putting rubbish into bins. Her own child was nearby.
Police evidence was that were variances in the degree of the driveway slope at the complex on 64 Brisbane Rd - less where the Ford had been left in a parking bay.
And the overall gradient averaged out at six degrees.
When interviewed by police, Ms Johnston maintained she was certain she put the brake on, and the auto gear lever into park before getting out and locking the car.
Then minutes later when a lady ran into the salon to say what was happening, Ms Johnston ran outside and been confronted by the horrible event.
"I just couldn't believe. I just couldn't believe it," she said.