A MUM who is standing trial over a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of her son has arrived at court, with the jury set to retire to consider its verdict this morning.
Olivia Cullinane's son Yulundji Tyson-Purcell, 9, was killed at the scene near Benaraby. His brother Tjamarli, 4, suffered brain injuries and was airlifted to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
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Cullinane has gone on trial before Judge Craig Chowdhury in the District Court at Gladstone charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death on October 8, 2013; and dangerous operation causing grievous bodily harm.
The Nambour mother is pleading not guilty to both charges.
Ms Cullinane had been taking prescribed methodone for 13 years and police found cannabis in her system following the fatal crash.
A FORENSIC doctor with Queensland Health says cannabis and methadone suppress the central nervous system but he could not say if this mix adversely affected the driving of mother Olivia Cullinane in a road crash that killed her son.
Cullinane had been taking prescribed methadone for 13 years and was found to also have cannabis in her system following the fatal crash at Benaraby about 12.30am on October 8, 2013.
A jury is considering evidence in the trial of the Nambour mother of seven, charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of Yulundji Tyson-Purcell, 9, and dangerous operation causing grievous bodily harm to his brother, Tjamarli, 4.
Dr Ian Home, before Gladstone District Court, said there were many variables but that it should be okay for someone to drive with a stabilised regulated dose of methadone if they felt okay.
He agreed, in cross examination, that its use with cannabis was ultimately up to the jury to decide (if this adversely affected Cullinane's driving).
A blood sample from Cullinane taken at Gladstone Base Hospital some hours after the Bruce Hwy crash gave a methadone reading of 0.46mg per litre and a cannabis (THC) reading of 0.011mg. He said any effect of methadone when used in the management of drug dependence as an opiate-replacement therapy depended on the pattern of use, but should not affect driving if it was an established (medical) dose.
However, Dr Home said, if taken with other drugs it was possible there would be an effect on alertness and ability to drive.
He said cannabis could distort judgement, slow coordination, reflexes and the tracking ability of eyes.
Dr Home said effects and level within the system depended on the pattern of use, if the person was a regular or infrequent user and other variables.
He knew that a level half that of Cullinane's reading had been associated with significant driver impairment and the level of THC found usually indicated cannabis was used within a couple of hours.
Defence counsel Maree Willey said although the Crown case was that she smoked cannabis before the crash there was no evidence of this before or after the crash, or if Cullinane was a first-time, heavy or light user.
"She denied drug use to the police.
"You should not hold that against her that she has been on the methadone program 13 years," Ms Willey said.
And she said there was no evidence the driver knew she was about to fall asleep.
The jury will retire to consider its verdict in the trial this morning.
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