Normal to sleepwalk: ex-NSW minister

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Former NSW police minister Troy Grant - whose father claims he was sleepwalking when involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash - says his family has a history of somnambulism and he was nicknamed "Goldilocks" after one incident when found sleeping in a stranger's bed.

Mr Grant, called as a defence witness on Monday at his father's Newcastle District Court trial, said sleepwalking was part of his family's folklore.

"We didn't think too much of it,'' Mr Grant said. "It was just part of what we did."

Mr Grant was aged about 14 when he heard a commotion in his parent's room late at night and found his mother trying to stop his father, Ken, climbing out the window to go for a swim.

He said his father's eyes were open but "he didn't look like he was with it".

On another occasion, Mr Grant found his mother stripping the sheets from their bed after his father had gone outside to turn on the sprinklers as he was a keen gardener before coming back to bed soaking wet and covered in soil and grass.

As for his own sleepwalking experiences, Mr Grant said there was one time when he was about 17 and he was awoken by a strange woman asking him: "Who are you? Who are you? Get out. Get out."

Mr Grant later discovered he had walked past some friends and told them he was going to the beach before walking into a house and hopping into bed.

He said the incident was most embarrassing and his mates later nicknamed him "Goldilocks".

Mr Grant's father, a retired police inspector, claims he was suffering from either sleepwalking or transient global amnesia (TGA), a sudden temporary episode of memory loss, or had sleep apnoea and was not driving voluntarily when he crashed into the victim after a Christmas party.

Grant, 72, has pleaded not guilty in a judge-alone trial to several charges including dangerous driving causing death after running into scientist Tony Greenfield when allegedly drink driving at about 11.25pm on November 30, 2019, in the Maitland suburb of Bolwarra.

The 62-year-old scientist died of his injuries in hospital.

Grant, who returned a blood alcohol level of 0.108 after his arrest, claimed to have no memory of the crash which threw Mr Greenfield 20m forward past his wife when they were walking to their accommodation after having been to the party.

Defence barrister Phillip Boulten SC suggested Grant could have been on auto-pilot with no conscious understanding of what he was doing or the consequences.

Mr Boulten said Grant would normally drink low-alcohol beer if driving but had at least three full strength beers and three glasses of red wine because he was intending to stay the night after the party.

Defence witness neurologist John O'Neill told the court on Monday if Grant's blood alcohol level was 0.108 it would not have caused such significant memory loss and TGA must have caused the amnesia.

But when told toxicology tests at hospital later revealed Grant had a reading of 0.194, Dr O'Neill said there was no doubt the retired policeman must have had amnesia when driving erratically on two blown tyres but alcohol consumption might be a more adequate explanation than TGA.

Prosecution witness neurologist Dr David Rosen earlier said Grant's actions and loss of memory did not fit with TGA or dementia and could have been caused by an alcohol blackout.

Dr Anup Desai, a specialist sleep and respiratory physician, was sceptical Grant had been sleepwalking when he drove 850m before hitting Mr Greenfield and another four kilometres before being pulled over by police.

The trial will resume on Tuesday.

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