Olivia Cullinane leaves court.
Olivia Cullinane leaves court. Ross Irby

Gladstone mum on trial after horror crash that killed son

MUM Olivia Cullinane was heading home with her six children after midnight when her Toyota Prado 4WD left the Bruce Highway, crashed down and embankment and overturned.

Her son Yulundji Tyson-Purcell, 9, was killed at the scene near Benaraby. His brother Tjamarli, 4, suffered brain injuries and airlifted to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

Tjamarli had been found pinned to the ground by a tree branch.

Ms Cullinane has gone on trial before a jury and Judge Craig Chowdhury in the District Court at Gladstone charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death on October 8, 2013; and dangerous operation causing grievous bodily harm.The Nambour mother is pleading not guilty to both charges.


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In opening the Crown case, prosecutor Sarah Dennis said Cullinane tested negative to alcohol but cannabis was found in her system and she had used prescribed methadone.

She said the jury would hear medical evidence that methadone when prescribed would not impact on the ability of the person (taken properly) to drive.

But, Ms Dennis said when taken in combination with other drugs like cannabis (THC) it can have a cumulative effect on a person's ability to control a motor vehicle and increase the risk of a crash.

She said THC and methadone can both act in a way to reduce alertness, concentration, judgement and slow reflexes.

"At Gladstone Base Hospital she told police she was tired on the drive and had stopped to sleep before deciding to continue to the next township and sleep there," Ms Dennis said.

"And had taken prescribed methadone around 6pm or 7pm.

"She could not give a reason why the vehicle left the road but says it flipped at least one."

In the first afternoon of evidence witnesses described a scene of confusion with four children taken up beside the highway and the realisation that two were missing.

Emergency lights had been set up and one brother was found near the wrecked Toyota, the other 19m away.

Clothes and belongings had been strewn about in the grass.

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