'Driver asleep' in Red Shore crash

The accident scene near Cunningham's Bridge, on December 19, 2007.
The accident scene near Cunningham's Bridge, on December 19, 2007. Coffs Coast Advocate

THE bass player of a heavy metal band allegedly fell asleep at the wheel prior to a fatal accident, which claimed the lives of two men, north of Coffs Harbour.

Jamie Hope, 23, a member of Geelong band The Red Shore, is on trial in the District Court accused of causing the deaths of two of his fellow band members.

Lead singer Damien Morris and roadie Andy Milner were killed after a mini bus carrying eight people crashed into a tree on the Pacific Highway at Moonee, near Cunningham's Bridge, on December 19, 2007.

Morris died at the scene, while Milner later died in hospital.

Three other men also suffered serious injuries.

The musicians were headed to Sydney to play a gig after performing in Brisbane the previous night when their rented white mini-bus careered off the highway and crashed into a tree.

The band was on the road, as part of the Christmas Carnage Tour supported by American metal band, All Shall Perish.

The court yesterday heard a man in the passenger seat noticed the accused's eyes were closed as they neared Coffs Harbour shortly before 7am.

In its opening address, the Crown alleged the man told Hope to pull over and take a break.

It was said that Hope agreed to stop in Coffs Harbour, but drifted into a micro sleep moments later.

“There is the irresistible inference that the accused fell

asleep just prior to the impact, having left the highway,” the Crown Prosecutor said.

“He had not had sufficient sleep the night before as the band had left immediately after the concert in Brisbane.

“The accused received a warning that he failed to heed,” it was argued.

The 12-member jury inspected the scene of the accident, yesterday afternoon.

A surviving band member is expected to be cross examined.

Other listed witnesses include the driver of a vehicle, who was travelling behind the van, and a police crash scene investigator.

Hope was interviewed by police on April 16, 2008, and charged with five offences, including two counts of driving in a manner dangerous causing death, and three counts of dangerous driving occasioning actual bodily harm.

The hearing continues today.

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