State prosecutors have abandoned a trial into charges against a man alleged to have been driving a stolen vehicle during the police chase tragedy that killed innocent mother Sharon D’Ercole.
James Stuart Edmonds had been due to face a District Court trial this week on charges of stealing a motor vehicle and driving recklessly and with intent to harm, doing an act causing bodily harm or endangering life, health or safety.
But State prosecutors have confirmed today that the charges were discontinued in May because a key witness was unable to give evidence because of ill health and was unlikely to be able to testify in the “foreseeable future”.
A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said the State had decided not to proceed with a trial on lesser charges.
“Proceeding on lesser charges would require a distortion of the facts and create an artificial basis for sentencing,” she said.
“By discontinuing the charges against Mr Edmonds at present, the State’s position is protected in the unlikely event that the witness returns to good health and the prosecution can be reinstituted.”
Ms D’Ercole died in April 2012 after a police car chasing a stolen Audi through a red light at a Dianella intersection crashed into her car.
The 50-year-old, whose teenage daughter Lashay was also in the car and was knocked unconscious, was obeying a green light at the
intersection of Alexander Drive and Morley Drive.
The fatality prompted heated debate about police pursuits.
The former constable driving the police vehicle, Gareth Hopley, was found not guilty of criminal responsibility for Ms D’Ercole’s death after a District Court jury trial in November last year.
Mr Hopley resigned amid an internal affairs investigation the month after he was acquitted.
Edmonds was sentenced to more than five years jail in December 2012 after admitting he stole the Audi and then torched the vehicle in a bid to cover up his involvement in the fatal chase.