7 Nov 2009

Jury finds head-on crash driver guilty of murder

7:21 am on 7 November 2009

A High Court jury has found a man who caused a head-on car collision guilty of murder.

Tony Worrell, 50, drove into recently-wed Katie Powles' car at speed in Karaka, south of Auckland, in June last year.

Worrell was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to another person involved in the crash, Brett Robinson, and two counts out of four of attempting to damage a vehicle knowing that danger to life might result.

The jury began its deliberations about 11.30am on Thursday, returning just after 2pm on Friday with a majority verdict.

About an hour earlier, the jury told Justice Andrews they were struggling to reach a consensus.

The judge told them that sufficient time had passed in order for them to pass a majority verdict.

When it was read out, the Powles family let out a collective sigh of relief while Worrell began wailing loudly.

The Crown said Worrell wanted to kill himself and deliberately drove into two cars, thus killing 26-year-old Ms Powles.

The defence said he did not have suicide on his mind and that the crash was caused by his alcohol consumption and his lapsing into a hypoglycaemic coma.

In her summing up, Justice Andrews told the jury not to hesitate in using their common sense or their knowledge of human nature when making their decision.

Families grieving

Mr Robinson read out a statement outside the court on behalf of himself and the Powles family, saying the event has caused grief beyond comprehension.

Mr Robinson's two children were in the car, and a year on he is still unable to work because of his injuries. He talked of both families' anger and Worrell's apparent lack of remorse.

Mr Robinson was flanked by Katie Powles' widower Darren, who had tears streaming down his face.

Worrell's lawyer Matthew Goodwin says his client has always been remorseful accepting it was his drunk driving which had fatal consequences.

Mr Goodwin says he knows it is probably of little comfort to the families affected to hear of his client's regret. However, he is not ruling out an appeal.