24 Aug 2009

Hearing begins for bridge swing death accused

7:11 pm on 24 August 2009

The Crown has told a court hearing that a man charged with the manslaughter over a bridge-swinging death failed to check the length of rope being used, or tie it off.

Catherine Peters, 18, fell more 22 metres to her death after jumping from the Ballance Bridge, near Woodville, in March.

Crag Adventures was responsible for running the bridge-swinging event for the group of Massey students. Director Alastair McWhannell, 46, was in charge of the rope when Miss Peters died.

The Crown told a depositions hearing at Palmerston North District Court on Monday that after overseeing 80 successful jumps on the day, Mr McWhannell failed to check the length of rope, or tie it off, before Miss Peters fell to the riverbed during her second jump.

Over the next five days the prosecution will call 22 witness and review video evidence taken on the day.

The hearing's evidence will be used to rule if Mr McWhannell should stand trial.