Crash manslaughter accused says he has been assaulted

A High Court judge has appealed for calm at a weeping, highly emotional court appearance for Darrin Ray Stewart who is charged with the manslaughter of an 18-year-old in a central Christchurch crash.

Stewart has already been assaulted in the street during his remand on bail since his arrest for the November 16 crash in which Alexia Chrissy-Marie Noble-Hazelwood was killed and three other passengers were injured.

Stewart, a 19-year-old scaffolder, had interim suppression until today when it lapsed at his appearance before Justice Gerald Nation in the High Court at Christchurch.

Defence counsel Anselm Williams said he accepted that there were no grounds to continue the order, but an affidavit had been filed for Stewart which sought that there be no publication of his photograph on safety grounds.

The affidavit detailed the assault, Mr Williams said. “He was walking through the area where he is living and a person came up to him on the footpath and assaulted him.”

Justice Nation discontinued the suppression order on his name, but granted an order suppressing any publication of photographs of Stewart until his next appearance which is set for February 22. The order will be reviewed on that date.

“Things may have calmed down by February 22,” said Mr Williams.

Five people came to the hearing wearing t-shirts reading “RIP Alexia”. They sat quietly through the hearing but several of them were weeping, and Stewart was also crying as he stood in the dock.

Justice Nation said the court had to follow through with the process that was required in tragic cases like this one.

“People have to try to exercise the calmness that the whole process requires,” he said.

“I appreciate, for those people in the back of the court, how difficult this is, but it is important that everyone respects the process. That is part of the way you respect the person who has died.

“I ask all of those in court to do that and not make the situation any worse for any for yourselves.”

Stewart faces a charge of causing the death of Miss Noble-Hazelwood by the unlawful act of dangerous driving.

He is also charged that having been involved in an accident where a person was killed, he failed without reasonable excuse to stop and ascertain whether anyone had been injured.

He is also charged with reckless driving causing injury to three other people – passengers in the car that allegedly crashed through a fence and into a tree and a building at the entrance to Christchurch East School on Gloucester St, Christchurch, about 11.15pm on Friday November 16.

The three injured are named as Tristan Le Comte, Zachery Noble-Hazelwood, and Angel Livingstone.

Another charge alleges he failed to remain stopped for a police officer to get his particulars.

At his first appearance in the District Court, the judge remanded him on bail to live at particular address where he will have a night time curfew, not to contact the three people alleged to have been injured, and not to consume alcohol or illicit drugs. Justice Nation today added a bail condition that he is not allowed to drive.