Jury deliver verdict in pedestrian death trial

Andrew Caplin
Andrew Caplin David Nielsen

A JURY has cleared the driver of a vehicle that fatally struck and killed a man as he walked his dogs down a suburban street.

Neville Reg Blacka, 48, pleaded not guilty to one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death after 31-year-old Andrew Caplin was killed on Jarrah St, Raceview on April 13 last year.

A four-day trial in Ipswich District Court this week heard evidence from Jarrah St resident Margaret Grabbe, who said she saw Mr Caplin singing and happily walking his dogs just moments before the tragic incident.

Mr Caplin was listening to music through his headphones so loudly that Mrs Grabbe said she could hear it as she sat in her garage on the other side of the street.

Ms Grabbe told the court that she didn't shout out to Mr Caplin, as she knew he wouldn't have heard her.

While giving evidence, Ms Grabbe said she saw Mr Caplin, who she had known for 10 years, walk past her home and moments later an "enormous bang" and "two little dogs run up the road absolutely terrified".

"I walked down and thought 'oh my god, Andrew's been hit," Ms Grabbe told the court.

In recorded evidence played to the court, Mr Blacka told Ipswich Forensic Crash Unit officers the sun was in his eyes as he drove his Nissan Navara down the street.

He said the crash happened when he was driving at between 20 and 30kmh about 200m from his own home.

"The sun was in my eyes, I had my sunglasses on but I couldn't see anything driving down the street," he said.

"I hit this thing I thought was a big dog and I saw it fly up in the air. I hit the brakes and came to a stop.

"I didn't think someone or something would be in the middle of the road.

"I got out the car and I was shaking, someone was doing CPR and I was crying and upset.

"There was a person lying there.

"I was screaming help me, help me."

Mr Blacka sobbed in the docks as the evidence was played to the court.

"All I remember was it flying up in the air and I thought it was a dog until I got out and saw it was a person," he said in evidence.

A separate witness, real estate agent Valerie Fall, told the court she was meeting with a buyer on Jarrah St when the crash happened.

She said she heard the "screech of the tyres and the sound of the impact".

"I saw a shape lying in the gutter and the driver got out the vehicle and I heard his horrible shrieks and then I saw it was a pedestrian," Ms Fall said.

The jury delivered its not-guilty verdict late Wednesday afternoon.

Tragic death of kind-hearted Andy

'ANDY' was well loved in his community. 

Remembered for his warm heart, friendship and as 'the kind of person everyone knew', Andrew Caplin was a familiar face at Raceview.

He walked his dogs around the area every day for 16 years before he was killed. It's exactly what he was doing when he died.

At the time of the incident in April last year, witnesses said Andrew was singing to music and happy as he set off down Jarrah St.

His carer of the last four years, Steve Edwards, at the time said Mr Caplin was a big part of the Alara community.

"Andy had a warm heart and saw the good in everybody," Mr Edwards said.

"For me it is like losing a really good friend."

Topics:  ipswich ipswich court ipswich crime

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