Mercedes in wrong lane: court told

THREE witnesses recall seeing a blue Mercedes travelling in the wrong lane on the Midland Highway shortly before a crash that claimed the life of a Launceston woman, a court has heard.

The hearing against Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis, SC, continued in the Hobart Magistrates Court yesterday.

Mr Ellis has pleaded not guilty to causing death by negligent driving in a crash involving three vehicles near Spring Hill a year ago that killed 27-year-old Natalia Pearn. 

It has been alleged by Crown prosecutor John Pickering, SC, that Mr Ellis was driving south in a northern overtaking lane for up to one kilometre, and that the driving was ``voluntary and conscious''. 

Sabina Van Ingen, who was travelling with her husband to Launceston, told magistrate Chris Webster yesterday that she saw a dark-coloured Mercedes, the same it was alleged Mr Ellis was driving, coming towards her in a northbound overtaking lane.

``I said to my husband `he's going to kill somebody','' Ms Van Ingen told the court.

``It just stayed in the lane.'' 

Teachers Jane Bird and Elizabeth Murfet told the court they were travelling behind Mr Ellis.

``I became aware of a blue vehicle in front of us,'' Ms Bird said.

``The reason I noticed it was that it was moving into the middle lane.''

Ms Bird said there was no vehicle to be overtaken.

``The car stayed there and maintained an equal distance in the lane,'' she said.

Ms Bird told the court she wondered at the time ``what on earth is that car doing?''

``As the car approached the sweeping right-hand bend we were worried something terrible would happen,'' Ms Bird said.

Ms Murfet also told the court the car was travelling in the middle lane on the incorrect side of the road.

``We were conscious of keeping out of the way,'' Ms Murfet said.

``It completely remained in that lane in a controlled manner as if it was the correct lane.''

Ms Murfet said they ``backed off'' and slowed right down.

``I really felt something had happened,'' Ms Murfet said.

The pair came across the aftermath of the crash when they rounded a bend.

Defence lawyer Michael O'Farrell, SC, cross-examined Ms Murfet and Ms Bird on details of other vehicles and inconsistencies in their statements taken on the night of the crash.

Ms Murfet had said in a police statement taken on the night of the crash that Mr Ellis had overtaken them, but said yesterday that was incorrect.

Richard and Sarah Bowerman, who were towing a trailer, told the court they were overtaken by Miss Pearn.

Mr Bowerman said the next thing he saw was the blue Mercedes driven by Mr Ellis spinning towards him.

``His car collided with my car,'' Mr Bowerman said.

``I didn't see the Corolla cross the centre lines,'' he said.

Crash investigator Sergeant Rodney Carrick said gouge marks on the road showed the car driven by Miss Pearn was ``well over to the left side of the road''.

``There is no evidence to suggest the Corolla was in the southern lane,'' Sergeant Carrick told the court.

Mr Ellis told police two days after the crash he had no recollection of being in the wrong lane, but that it was possible he was asleep or experiencing the effects of sleep apnoea, a condition for which he receives treatment. 

The hearing continues today.

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