SMASH: British tourist Arabella Stuart was killed in this head-on collision in January 2001. Michael Collins will be sentenced on Friday. Picture: Stefan Moore
IT has taken more than 15 years,but Michael Collins –the man who fled to Turkey after causing a horrific head-on crash at Karauh that claimed the life of a Britishmarine biologist –has spent his first night in custody.
Collins, also known as Metin Yuceturk, wept in the Newcastle District Court dock on Thursday as Arabella Stuart’s sister, Kate, and her father, John, who had travelled from the UK for the sentence hearing,read emotional victim impact statements to the court.
“Although I appreciate his apology or a jail sentence would not have made any difference to the outcome of the crash, the fact that the person who had driven into her had ran away made an unbearable situation so much harder,” Kate Stuart told the court.
Arabella Stuart, 26, was on her way to the Great Barrier Reef on January 13, 2001,when Collins’Toyota Supra crossed to the wrong side of the Pacific Highway and collided head-on with her camper van.
The impact killed Ms Stuart and injured three others,including the back-seat passenger of Collins’car, whohad to have his left arm amputated below the shoulder,
But 26 days later, after discharging himself from hospital,Collins fled to Turkeywith the help of his mother.
Checks of his license had revealed he was disqualified from driving until August2001, and a blood test hadreturned a positive result for cannabis.
The court heard he was married in Turkeyin 2008 and returnedto Australia, undetected, in 2012, where he began working as a labourer.
He wasn’t arrested until 2015 and never sought to come forward and speak with police, Crown prosecutor Paul Maher told the court.
In June,he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and three counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. Other serious driving charges will betaken into account when he is sentenced in Newcastle District Court on Friday.
Judge Leonie Flannerysaid a full-time custodial sentence was an “inevitability” andremanded Collins in custody toserve his first night since pleading guilty.