Finding on girl's death overturned

A MAN who hit and killed a 13-year- old Southern schoolgirl while driving twice the speed limit has had his conviction overturned.

Bradley John Chaplin, 29, was found guilty in the Hobart Magistrates Court in February of killing Ashley Edmonds in 2012 by negligent driving.

Mr Chaplin's car hit the girl as she stepped out from behind a school bus at Karanja in the Derwent Valley.

In the appeal Mr Chaplin, of New Norfolk, did not dispute he was negligent in driving 80km/h or that the teenager died as a result of the collision.

However, he argued that magistrate Olivia McTaggart was wrong in finding "there was a causative link between (his) negligence and the death of the girl".

Yesterday Chief Justice Alan Blow, citing precedent set in a mainland court, agreed.

"(Mr Chaplin's) negligence in driving at an excessive speed from the time he was 50 metres away from the bus may well have resulted in his vehicle being at the point of impact at the moment of impact," he said.

"But as a matter of law it was not open to the learned magistrate to make a finding that his negligence was therefore a cause of the death of the girl."

Ms McTaggart had found that even if Mr Chaplin was driving at the 40km/h speed limit when he hit Ms Edmonds the schoolgirl would have still likely died.

However, she found him guilty on the basis that if he'd been travelling at 40km/h, there would have been no collision - as Ms Edmonds would have already crossed the road - and she would not have died.

Defence counsel Chris Gunson said this reasoning was erroneous.

Chief Justice Blow said Mr Chaplin had been found guilty of other charges relating to this "tragic incident" but they were dismissed after he had been found guilty of death by negligent driving.

He said he didn't have the power to reactivate those charges, which included driving without due care and attention, and driving at a speed exceeding 40km/h within 50 metres of a school bus stopped on a road.

Outside Hobart's Supreme Court Ms Edmonds's family said they were hoping to appeal against the decision, the ABC reported.

"We feel like there's no justice for our daughter," Lisa Edmonds said.

"I really don't have any faith in the justice system now."

pbillings@examiner.com.au

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