Debris ‘flew in air’ from highway crash that killed cop

Cheryl Goodenough |

A committal hearing for Kari O’Brien (pictured) and Skye Anne Wallis has heard from a crash witness.
A committal hearing for Kari O’Brien (pictured) and Skye Anne Wallis has heard from a crash witness.

Debris flew into the air at the time of an alleged hit-and-run in which a police officer died, a witness has told court.

Leif Hass was testifying in a committal hearing for Skye Anne Wallis and Kari O’Brien who are charged with murder over the death of Senior Constable David Masters.

The 53-year-old officer died after being hit by a suspected stolen car on the Bruce Highway at Burpengary, north of Brisbane, about 3am on June 26, 2021.

He was putting a tyre deflation device on the road at the time.

The Crown alleges the vehicle was driven by 36-year-old Wallis, while O’Brien was a passenger.

The SUV travelled past Mr Hass before making a quite sudden and violent swerve, he told the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

“It was close enough in front of me that I could see the impact and a hell of a lot of debris fly in the air.”

The vehicle may have slowed down slightly due to the impact but then sped away quite fast, he told the court.

“It was just gone.”

Using a speed camera and body-worn camera footage, Sergeant Tania Beavis, who worked for the forensic crash unit, estimated the vehicle alleged to have struck Sen Const Masters was travelling at an average speed of 147 to 153km/h in the 15 kilometres before the impact, the hearing was told.

Another officer’s body-worn camera footage was used as Sen Const Masters’ camera was not turned on at the time of his death, the court heard.

Defence barrister Malcolm Harrison put it to witness Stacey Wheatley that she had told police she had brought Wallis to her house before seeing a news clip about the officer’s death.

“You said, ‘what the actual f***’ and went into the bedroom and said to Skye: ‘what the f***, I can’t have you here, I don’t want you here’,” Mr Harrison read.

Ms Wheatley told the court she did not remember the night properly.

“We were under the influence of a lot of drugs at the time and I don’t remember – it’s been a long time.”

She agreed that her memory would have been “100 per cent” clearer when she made her statement to detectives in July 2021.

O’Brien, 27, was granted bail in April after the Brisbane Supreme Court found the prospects of a murder conviction were not high.

Her barrister Christopher Wilson is set to argue at the end of the hearing that there is insufficient evidence to commit O’Brien to stand trial for murder.

The crown case is that Wallis is responsible for the death as she drove the car dangerously at or toward the officer or by acting with reckless indifference to human life, the court heard earlier.

Prosecutors argue O’Brien had a common purpose with Wallis to unlawfully use a car to avoid apprehension and the offence was a probable consequence.

The women are also facing one count each of unlawful use of a vehicle and arson, relating to the car being found burnt out.

The committal hearing before magistrate Peter Saggers is set to continue on Tuesday.