Rodney Johnson in Singleton Local Court after Singleton semi-trailer crash

ACCUSED: Rodney Johnson, the man police allege was behind the wheel of a stolen semi-trailer that crashed and caught fire in Singleton on Wednesday morning.
ACCUSED: Rodney Johnson, the man police allege was behind the wheel of a stolen semi-trailer that crashed and caught fire in Singleton on Wednesday morning.

RODNEY Johnson, the man accused of using a stolen semi-trailer to cause a trail of destruction in Singleton’s main street on Wednesday morning, has been refused bail and sent for a psychiatric assessment.

Mr Johnson, 29, who lists addresses at Quirindi and Penrith, did not appear in Singleton Local Court or apply for bail during a brief mention of his matter on Thursday.

He also didn’t enter any pleas to two counts of police pursuit, two counts of using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detection, two counts of destroying property, two counts of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and stealing a motor vehicle. 

Magistrate Michael Morahan ordered Mr Johnson be seen by a Justice Health psychiatrist and adjourned the matter to Newcastle Local Court on December 6, where it will be prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). 

The usually peaceful main street of Singleton looked more like a war zone on Wednesday morning after an out-of-control and allegedly stolen semi-trailer crashed into cars and buildings before catching fire, injuring eight people. 

One of the injured people, a 64-year-old man, is fighting for his life after being trapped in his car when it was hit by the semi-trailer, which was carrying mushroom compost.

According to a police bail determination form, which is typically among the court documents produced by police, Mr Johnson is unemployed, essentially homeless and had previously been subject to arrest warrants to get him to attend court.  

“The accused… has displayed a blatant disregard for the safety of both the general public and police,” the document states.

As for the strength of the prosecution case, police said there was a large number of independent witnesses who could provide statements and said the number of charges against the 29-year-old was likely to grow.

“The accused has shown no remorse towards the [alleged] victims,” the documents states. 

As is standard with any major incident that occurs during a police operation, police have launched a critical incident investigation, which will be led by officers attached to Port Stephens local area command. 

The accused... displayed a blatant disregard for the safety of both the general public and police.

A police document tendered in court.