Bail denied to smash driver after plea

A MAN has indicated he will plead guilty to charges arising from a smash at Robinvale late last year that left his cousin and another passenger with serious injuries.

But Timothy Bruce Spence’s bid to be released on bail to stay with family in the Robinvale area as he awaits a County Court plea hearing was denied yesterday, after he failed to convince magistrate Pauline Spencer he would not flee the state.

Spence, 39, told the Mildura Magistrates’ Court he would plead guilty to two counts of negligent driving that caused serious injury to his cousin Jamie Farnsworth and another passenger, Shane Smythe.

The court heard Mr Farnsworth and Mr Smythe were flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital after the November 18 smash on Malaya Road, while an ambulance taking Spence to Mildura Base Hospital had to stop 10 times because of his aggressive behaviour.

Acting Sergeant Andrew Kilroy said Spence had been drinking with Mr Farnsworth and Mr Smythe on the day of the incident and a witness had indicated all three were “pretty drunk” and “could not really stand up” by the time Spence got the behind the wheel.

The court heard Spence was driving erratically on Malaya Road, with Mr Smythe telling him to “f---ing slow down” from the rear passenger seat, putting his seatbelt on in fear.

Mr Farnsworth was not wearing a seatbelt when the car struck a tree after Spence allegedly lost control going around a bend at no less than 85km/h.

The court heard a blood sample taken from Spence was analysed, with a doctor estimating his blood alcohol level at the time of the incident to be between 0.177 and 0.225.

Prosecutors opposed Spence’s bail application, fearing he would escape interstate and fail to turn up to his plea hearing.

Acting Sgt Kilroy said Spence was wanted for outstanding assault matters in South Australia and his native Queensland and had previously been living in Tasmania, arriving in Victoria not long before the Robinvale incident.

Spence was granted bail earlier this year but he was never released after his family failed to post a $3000 surety.

His sister yesterday gave evidence, saying: “The money was there for him to get out and he decided no”.

However, Spence had since grown increasingly uncomfortable behind bars and even asked the court if he could “wear a GPS tracker” during his bail hearing.

It wasn’t an option and Ms Spencer refused bail, saying it would rely on “a great deal of trust” for Spence not to flee Victoria while “just a stone’s throw from the border” in Robinvale.

Spence will face the County Court during its next Mildura sittings, which begin at the end of July.

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