A man on trial for killing a man during a road rage incident has changed his plea to guilty this morning.
Rodney Allen Beard had been fighting a manslaughter charge before a jury in the Supreme Court where he is accused of killing motorist Mark Noormets, 51, and doing an act likely to endanger the life, health and safety of another driver Doug Wormall in Byford on December 6, 2012.
This morning, before the jury began hearing the second day of proceedings, Beard's lawyer said his client wanted to give him further instructions and asked for an adjournment.
About half an hour later the court heard Beard wanted to change his pleas, followed by the accused man formally pleading guilty as the charges were again read to him.
Mr Noormet's ex wife today said Beard's crime had not just claimed the life of a father but also an outstanding member of the community.
"The community lost somebody that was huge," she said, describing how he had worked with the fire brigade, mowed the brigade's lawns and been active in making council submissions.
Prosecutors alleged Beard had pursued Mr Wormall and rammed his car three times before Beard lost control of his ute, veered on to the wrong side of South Western Highway and hit Mr Noormets’ car.
Mr Noormets died at the scene.
The jury had been told both Mr Wormall and Mr Noormets had been minding their own business in their respective cars before they both became victims of “speed-fuelled road rage”, which would leave one of the men dead and the other “terrified”.
Mr Wormall had tried to call 000 and was attempting to get to a police station.
Moments after the guilty pleas this morning, Mr Wormall said he was relieved the trial was over and felt deep sympathy for Mr Noormet's family.
Asked what had been going through his mind while he was being chased by Beard, Mr Wormall said: "I can't believe anyone doing that. It just kept going from there. I just didn't know at the end result somebody was going to die."
The court was told blood tests found Mr Beard – who received leg injuries in the crash – had traces of methylamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.
The trial had been expected to take two weeks.
Beard will be sentenced April 7 and was remanded in custody.