A MAN accused of causing the death of his brother in a crash at East Gresford told police his brother had distracted him and pulled the handbrake in the moments before the crash, according to court documents.
Gerard David Brennan, 32, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death – drive under the influence, and dangerous driving occasioning death – drive manner dangerous.
Gerard Brennan is accused of causing the death of his older brother, 41-year-old Damien Francis Brennan, after the Toyota HiLux they were travelling in hit a guard rail and rolled on Bingleburra Road, East Gresford between 4.15am and 4.51am on July 17, court documents state.
It was extremely foggy on Bingleburra Road when the two men set off from The Beatty Hotel at Gresford after an evening of drinking and playing the poker machines.
Gerard Brennan later told crash investigators that due to the conditions he told his brother to put his seat belt on before they left.
But not long into their journey, Damien Brennan started “mucking around”, the younger brother said during his police interview.
“Trying to drive a car and yeah he’s ripped my handbrake on,” Gerard Brennan said. “It’s kicked me out sideways.”
Gerard Brennan later clarified that the handbrake “didn’t stay on”, but it was enough for him to take his hands off the wheel.
“It’s locked us and kicked us sideways,” he said.
“And right about then … I hit the fog as well.
“I couldn’t see nothing … and yeah we rolled down the hill.”
Damien Brennan was ejected from the vehicle and his brother ran more than a kilometre to a nearby dairy farm to raise the alarm, court documents state.
But while he was there, Gerard Brennan said he grabbed a bottle of rum and “just nailed it”, taking a big swig before the family drove him back to the crash site.
According to a statement from the first police officer on scene, Gerard Brennan said he couldn’t be breath tested because he had consumed alcohol since the crash.
“You told me to have a drink,” the police officer alleges Gerard Brennan told him.
“You said come up here and have a drink and relax.”
The police officer disputed this and breath tested Gerard Brennan, which returned a reading of 0.132, according to court documents.
The matter was adjourned to Newcastle District Court on April 13 to set a trial date.
Charges of negligent driving occasioning death and altering the concentration of alcohol before a sample will serve as back-ups.