Matthew Thomas granted home detention bail on hit-run charges

Naomi Braden and Stephen Press were victims of a hit-run in Port Augusta last week.

Naomi Braden and Stephen Press were victims of a hit-run in Port Augusta last week.

Mathew Thomas, the man accused of last week's hit-run double fatality, has been granted home-detention bail by a Port Augusta magistrate.

Thomas was granted bail on Friday, February 21, to live at an address in Stirling North, but was expected to remain in custody until today.

The prosecution, opposed to all forms of bail, appealed to the Supreme Court against the court's decision.

But the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Thomas and he was granted home-detention.

Thomas appeared via video link from Adelaide and remained composed in front of more than 50 people in the Port Augusta Magistrates Court gallery last week.

Among those attending were family members of victims Stephen Press and Naomi Braden, as well as Thomas' wife. While Thomas' family maintained a vow of silence leaving the court room, a visibly distraught supporter of the victims labelled the decision as "bloody disgusting".

Magistrate Jackson said Thomas was "entitled to presumption of innocence", before laying out strict conditions of bail.

"It does not appear to be disputed that the applicant killed the two victims when his vehicle struck them as they walked along the road at night," she said.

"The charges as laid are serious and the death of two persons has caused much anguish in this community.

"... I do not consider there is a risk of Thomas absconding."

Thomas' lawyer Craig Caldicott said there was no suggestion of him breaching his bail. He described Thomas as a "terrific family man" with "huge family support."

"It is a very serious matter, but he should be granted bail until the matter is ready to go before the court," he said.

Mr Caldicott remained tight-lipped about how Thomas would plead to the charges.

"Only after we have all of the material will a decision be made as to how this matter is to progress," he said.

"It is a tragic accident for everyone concerned. Not for one moment are we suggesting that is not the case. It is a terrible accident."

The court heard that Thomas had been drinking at the Hotel Augusta since 6.15pm on February 14, consuming a dozen schooners of mid-strength beer before getting behind the wheel.

The court heard that about 1am on February 15 an altercation had taken place between Thomas and his wife in which she told him she would not be drink-driving home.

Thomas had left the hotel alone then travelled in his vehicle along Caroona Road, hitting Stephen Press, 50, and partner Naomi Braden, 44, the court heard.

Both died at the scene as a result of their injuries.

The court was told that Thomas had stopped 400 metres from the collision, but did not get out of his vehicle or call police.

He had said the weather was dry, he was not distracted and he did not believe the pair had moved farther onto the road. The prosecution said that in a statement made by Thomas' wife to police, he called her crying saying: "I killed a person, I killed them."

About noon on February 15, Thomas had handed himself into the Port Augusta Police Station where he made "full and frank" admission.

He was charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of a crash and one count of aggravated driving without due care.

This story Matthew Thomas granted home detention bail on hit-run charges first appeared on The Transcontinental.