Ex-NSW MP's father guilty of fatal hit-run

Ken Grant killed a pedestrian while drink-driving and failed to stop after the crash.
Ken Grant killed a pedestrian while drink-driving and failed to stop after the crash.

The father of former NSW police minister Troy Grant has been found guilty of a fatal hit-and-run when drink driving after a judge rejected claims he was sleepwalking.

Newcastle District Court judge John Hatzistergos on Friday said there was "no reasonable possibility" Ken Grant had been suffering from somnambulism when he crashed into scientist Tony Greenfield after a Christmas party in 2019.

The 72-year-old retired police inspector claimed he was either sleepwalking or had transient global amnesia (TGA), a sudden temporary episode of memory loss, or had sleep apnoea and was not driving voluntarily before the crash.

The key witness in the judge-alone trial was Dr Anup Desai, a specialist sleep and respiratory physician.

He said there was no evidence Grant had fallen asleep at the party before going out and driving his ute erratically on two blown tyres and he did not believe he was sleepwalking before the crash.

Grant was found guilty of dangerous driving causing death, failing to stop after a fatal crash, being involved in a police pursuit and drink driving after running into Mr Greenfield about 11.24pm on November 30, 2019, at Flat Road, in the Maitland suburb of Bolwarra.

The 62-year-old scientist died of his injuries at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital.

Party guests described Grant as being "hammered" and "well and truly gone" before getting behind the wheel.

Judge Hatzistergos accepted Dr Desai's evidence, saying despite Grant's previous good character he had made a voluntary decision to drive that night when drunk.

During the trial, Dr Desai was sceptical Grant had been sleepwalking when he drove 850m before hitting Mr Greenfield and another four kilometres before being pulled over by police.

He told the court people with somnambulism would only sleepwalk for between five to seven minutes at the most.

Dr Desai said Grant would have had to have been in a deep sleep for between 30-40 minutes before sleepwalking, not having short naps.

The judge pointed out that Grant was seen by one party guest nodding off in a chair about 10.45pm.

Judge Hatzistergos said the defence claim that Grant was sleepwalking had been correctly described by the Crown as "scant".

The judge noted Dr Desai believed there was no evidence anyone aged older than in their 50s would sleepwalk and nothing in Grant's doctor's medical notes mentioned him having somnambulism.

He accepted Troy Grant's evidence that both his father and his family had a history of sleep walking but the extent of that somnambulism in Ken Grant's later years was in dispute.

Troy Grant, who admitted his nickname was Goldilocks because of his own sleepwalking experiences, was aged about 14 when he heard a commotion in his parent's room late at night and found his mother trying to stop his father climbing out the window to go for a swim.

Ken Grant, who returned a blood alcohol level of 0.108 after his arrest and had a later reading of 0.194 from blood tests, claimed to have no memory of the crash which threw Mr Greenfield 20m forward past his wife when they were walking to their accommodation after having been to the party.

Defence barrister Phillip Boulten SC suggested Grant could have been on auto-pilot with no conscious understanding of what he was doing or the consequences.

Prosecution witness neurologist Dr David Rosen said Grant's actions and loss of memory did not fit with TGA or dementia and could have been caused by an alcohol blackout.

A sentence hearing for Grant will be held in February and his bail is continued.

Australian Associated Press