Mother describes tree falling on son, as ex-partner faces manslaughter trial

Mother describes tree falling on son, as ex-partner faces manslaughter trial

A Victorian man accused of causing the death of a seven-year-old boy while felling a tree has broken down sobbing and gasping for breath on the first day of his Supreme Court trial in Hobart.

Key points:

  • Joshua Hector Clark was on a wood harvesting trip when a tree he was cutting started to fall
  • The court heard a seven-year-old boy was hit on the head and later died
  • Mr Clark has pleaded not guilty to one charge of manslaughter and is accused of being culpably negligent

Joshua Hector Clark pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter after a tree he was cutting fell on his then-partner’s son, Akira Carroll, in August 2015.

Mr Clark broke down as the court was played audio of triple-0 calls made on the day.

Crown prosecutors told the court that Mr Clark and Sierra Lynd, along with their three young children, traveled to Mount Lloyd near New Norfolk to harvest firewood.

Ms Lynd gave evidence via video link clutching a teddy bear to her chest while she recounted the details.

The court heard Mr Clark came across one tree leaning into another tree, with both hanging over the road, and decided to inspect it more closely.

He then parked his ute in the middle of the road, retrieved his chainsaw and disappeared into bushland, while Ms Lynd and her children waited in the car.

He told police he wanted to chop down the tree because it posed a threat to other road users and he was worried it would eventually fall across the road.

He said he and Ms Lynd discussed this and he said that was the reason he set out to cut the tree, but in court Ms Lynd said he never mentioned anything to her about the potential danger.

Ms Lynd told the court how she heard Mr Clark yell out to “get the f*** out of the car” before she saw the tree fall towards her.

She said she immediately got out of the car to retrieve her three-year-old child who was secured in a car seat behind her.

Akira managed to also escape the vehicle but was hit on the head by the falling tree moments later.

“I heard the tree crash and then saw my Akira hit,” Ms Lynd said.

“I scooped him up and ran him back to the [ute’s] tray.”

The third child was in the car when it was crushed by the tree and suffered a broken collar bone.

Mr Clark has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge.(ABC News)

A rescue helicopter was sent but because of the difficult terrain and the remote location, Ms Lynd said it took “quite some time” for emergency services to find them.

Akira was taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital but died from blunt force trauma injuries the next day.

The Crown alleges Mr Clark failed to take reasonable precautions to use correct techniques to harvest trees, which resulted in increased risk to people nearby.

It also claims any reasonable person would consider Mr Clark’s conduct posed a high risk of death, and that his conduct fell so short it deserves criminal punishment.

The trial is expected to run until Thursday.

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2022-09-05 09:12:15