Cop on trial going 133km/h before crash

·3-min read

A Sydney police officer was driving at 133 kilometres per hour in a 70-zone a second before he crashed into a grandmother, leaving her with a severe brain injury, his trial has heard.

But Harry Thomas Little, 42, honestly believed he had his lights and sirens on, his lawyer says.

The senior constable has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm after his highway patrol car slammed into the driver side of Sydney woman Gai Vieira's Mercedes in September 2018.

Ms Vieira had been turning right onto Cronulla's six-lane Kingsway at the same time Little tried to chase down a Volkswagen whose driver was suspected of illegally using their mobile phone.

"Whilst driving at 133 kilometres per hour ... the crown case is that this police car did not have its police siren on or its police lights on," crown prosecutor Carl Young told Little's District Court trial on Tuesday.

Ms Vieira suffered a severe brain injury "from which she will likely never recover", the prosecutor said.

The Sydney jury hearing the case is expected to focus on the 45 seconds between the Volkswagen driver driving past Little and him colliding with the then-68-year-old grandmother.

Little, who joined the police force in 2002, was stationed near Kingsway when he received a radio call about the driver's suspected use of a mobile phone.

But he was not immediately able to turn into the arterial road due to traffic, the jury was told.

By the time he did, the Volkswagen was about 20 seconds past the senior constable's location.

It's agreed that Little accelerated quickly to 122km/h, "braked heavily and slowed" to about 73km/h to move around an L-plater and then accelerated again once back in the right lane.

The police car was recorded at 135.4km/h about one to two seconds before impacting Ms Vieira's car.

Little hit his brakes as Ms Vieira crossed the three westbound lanes, but his car was still travelling at 87km/h when it collided with the driver door of the Mercedes.

The Crown will be required to prove Little was driving in a manner dangerous to the public and was doing so without an honest or reasonable belief that he was not driving dangerously.

"A key part is that a fully marked police vehicle, even if travelling at speed, might create an expectation that other vehicles will get out of the way, or at least give way to that vehicle," defence barrister Hament Dhanji SC said in his opening address.

Little honestly believed he'd switched his lights and sirens on after passing the L-plater, Mr Dhanji said, adding his client may give evidence.

Experienced officers are due to tell the jury the in-car panel used to activate police lights and sirens does not always respond in the manner the operator expects.

If the Crown hadn't excluded the possibility Little believed the lights were on, Mr Dhanji said the jury would "judge the driving as if the lights were on".

He warned the case was not about proving "simply that things could have been done differently (or) that Mr Little did not have to pursue the Volkswagen".

"There's no doubt in this room that everyone including Mr Little wishes he didn't pursue that car."

The trial is expected to hear from the L-plater, his supervisor, other drivers on the road at the time and Little's colleagues.

The trial is expected to run for seven days.