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Australia Driver accused of Port Augusta hit-and-run deaths argued with wife over drinking, court told

10:35  17 february  2020
10:35  17 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A driver who allegedly hit and killed two pedestrians in South Australia's north had a disagreement with his wife about his drinking before the crash, and later admitted his involvement, a court has heard.

hit-and-run© ABC hit-and-run

Port Augusta couple Stephen Press, 50, and Naomi Braden, 44, were fatally struck on Caroona Road early on Saturday morning.

Matthew Thomas, 39, was later charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of a crash and one count of aggravated driving without due care.

Dozens of people packed the Port Augusta courtroom today where Thomas made his first appearance.

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He wept as police prosecutors quoted witnesses who claimed he hit the couple as they walked home about 2:00am on Saturday.

The court heard Thomas had about a dozen mid-strength beers at a local pub and a disagreement with his wife before he hit the couple.

The court heard Thomas had attended a party with his wife, where they had a disagreement about him having drunk too much alcohol.

He then left in his silver Toyota Kruger, admitting to police he saw the victims walking along Caroona Road, and could "not explain why he hit them", the prosecution told the court.

It was alleged Thomas admitted to police he "did not exit his vehicle", and the prosecution said the accused did not stop to help, or ring emergency services.

The court heard a local resident saw headlights illuminating a person around the time of the incident, and that the vehicle did not appear to brake before the witness heard the impact.

Family mourns after couple killed in alleged hit and run

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In a statement to police, the accused's wife said she received a call around 2:00am, in which the accused said he had "killed a person" and "driven off".

hit-and-run© ABC hit-and-run

The prosecution noted a "distinct possibility of retribution" should the accused be allowed bail.

The presiding magistrate ordered a report into the suitability of home detention bail, to be heard at Port Augusta Magistrate's court next week.

A magistrate will consider whether the man is suitable for home detention bail next Friday.

'Devastating to our community'

Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow has paid tribute to the victims, saying their deaths were a "tragic event" and the town would take a "long time to heal".

"It's very sad for the families involved in all areas," he said.

"There's young children left behind so it's devastating to our community.

"The community is very supportive of each other, though, so I'm sure the families and friends are comforting teach other as best they can."

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A Port Augusta man charged over the hit-and-run deaths of a local couple is granted home detention bail, but will stay behind bars until after their funerals and because of concerns about his "safety and security".Supreme Court Justice Trish Kelly granted Mathew Thomas, 39, bail but said it did not "seem right" for him to be in the town while the community was mourning.

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