A VIDEO of police interrogating a Wagga taxi driver accused of a fatal hit and run should not be admissible due to the man's intellectual impairment, a court has heard.
David Edward Blake was driving a taxi when it hit 51-year-old Junee man Mal Hackett on Red Hill Road at Glenfield Park in October 2019.
A few days later the Wagga man was charged with failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing death, an offence to which Mr Blake has pleaded not guilty.
During a pre-trial hearing at Wagga District Court yesterday, the prosecution and defence debated at length as to whether a video of an interview between police and Mr Blake was admissible evidence.
Crown prosecutor Virginia Morgan said that while Mr Hackett was in the middle of a dark road when he was struck and there was "nothing untoward" about Mr Blake's driving, he should have known that he had hit someone.
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She said the video interview was an "important part" of the prosecution case.
A second video was played in court showing an officer speaking with the owners of the taxi leased to Mr Blake.
The video shows the couple saying that Mr Blake has a brain injury and might need someone there if officers interview him, however, they say he is "high functioning".
Barrister Mark Dennis said his client "clearly has a mental impairment" and falls into the category of a vulnerable person, alleging officers displayed "grave" impropriety in how they handled the situation.
Mr Dennis said that Mr Blake, when answering questions in the interview with the police, did not understand he did not have to respond.
"On the expert evidence, he is unable to evaluate the relevant costs and benefits even if he does understand the caution," he said. "That leaves him at a significant forensic disadvantage."
In rebuttal, Ms Morgan argued that Mr Blake "exercises his free will" during the recorded interview, and the prosecution did not define him as a vulnerable person.
"If he doesn't know something, there are examples there where he is content to tell police that he doesn't know," she said.
Ms Morgan said while the officer had been told of the brain injury, he was also informed that Mr Blake was "high functioning", adding the custody manager had assisted him in understanding his rights and getting a legal representative.
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