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Lawyer fled fatal crash: court

The Sydney Morning Herald: Lawyer fled fatal crash: court

STEVE LARKIN
February 5, 2010 - 2:49PM

A top lawyer knew he killed a cyclist in a road accident but fled the scene and hid from police for hours to avoid an alcohol test, a court has been told.

The lawyer, Eugene McGee, had shared three bottles of white wine with his brother in the hours preceding the fatal hit-run in 2003, prosecutor Emily Telfer told the South Australian District Court on Friday.

McGee and his brother later drove through a police roadblock near the accident scene without identifying himself as the driver of a car which hit and killed the cyclist in SA’s Barossa Valley, Ms Telfer said.

Eugene McGee and his brother Craig McGee pleaded not guilty on Friday to conspiring to attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Ms Telfer said the lawyer had told his 2005 trial, when he was fined $3100 for driving without due care, "he knew someone had been killed and he knew he was in serious trouble".

Ms Telfer said McGee knew of a law stating blood alcohol tests had to be taken within two hours after an accident to be legally relevant.

"Eugene McGee, by reason of his profession and his work history, was aware of those provisions," she told the court.

Eugene McGee was never breath or blood-tested for alcohol following the crash, which killed cyclist Ian Humphreys.

His perceived light sentence for driving without due care prompted the SA government to rewrite laws and enact harsher penalties for the offence.

His case was also subject of a royal commission, which criticised police for their handling of the case and found their investigation was not undertaken appropriately, efficiently or expeditiously.

The royal commission recommended the brothers face the conspiracy charge and the McGees went to the High Court in an unsuccessful bid to have the count dropped.

On Friday, Ms Telfer said Eugene McGee "determined to stay away from areas where he might be detected by police" in the hours after the crash.

McGee waited until two hours after the crash before leaving his damaged car at his mother’s house, near the accident scene, she said.

His brother then drove him to Adelaide, when they travelled "through a police roadblock where no effort was made to identify Eugene McGee", Ms Telfer said.

The trial, expected to last three more weeks, was continuing.

© 2010 AAP