Man cleared over ex-wife's driveway death

·2-min read

A Victorian man has been found not guilty of failing to stop after his ex-wife was crushed by his car following a dispute in her driveway.

Gayle Potter was arguing with ex-husband Glenn Graeme Martyn in the driveway of her Traralgon home in October 2018 when she was struck by his SUV.

Ms Potter's partner, Dean Matzke, found her body lying on the ground before grabbing some towels, ringing triple zero and performing CPR for about 15 minutes until paramedics arrived.

Ms Potter, who had two children with Mr Martyn and one with Mr Matzke, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her former husband was ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court on charges of manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death and failing to stop a vehicle after an accident.

The court heard Ms Potter and Mr Martyn, whom she divorced 11 years earlier, had a heated argument as she stood outside his car window in her driveway.

The prosecution alleged Mr Martyn then drove forward and his rear driver-side wheel caught his ex-wife, causing her to get dragged under the car.

Mr Martyn allegedly told his daughter over the phone Ms Potter hit his car and he didn't know he struck her, with his defence barrister Peter Morrissey SC arguing Ms Potter caused the incident by going at him through his car window.

Justice Christopher Beale upheld the defence's case, last week striking out the first two charges after a doctor gave evidence that ordinary drivers have a reaction time between 1.5 to two seconds.

"It is conceded by the prosecution that there is no evidence which would allow the jury to work out how long elapsed between the deceased grabbing hold of the accused's shirt through the car window and her going under the car and suffering the fatal injuries," the judge said.

"It is the prosecution's case that once she did grab hold of his shirt, the accused should have stopped the car, but there is simply no evidence which would enable a jury to find that more than two seconds elapsed between Ms Potter grabbing the accused's T-shirt and her being crushed by the car."

As such, Justice Beale said a reasonable jury could not exclude the possibility Ms Potter had suffered the fatal injuries before Mr Martyn had time to react and stop the car.

"Consequently, it would not be open to a reasonable jury to find that the driving was driving that can be characterised as criminally negligent or dangerous in the legal technical sense," he said.

With those charges thrown out, the jury deliberated on the lower offence of failing to stop a vehicle after an accident and returned a not guilty verdict on Thursday.

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