Mayor vows to stay in top job after fatal crash charge
EMBATTLED Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill will not stand down from the top job after sensationally being charged over the death of a motorbike rider following a nine-month police investigation.
In a move that sent shockwaves through Queensland political circles, Cr Hill, 60, was yesterday served the notice for driving without due care and attention causing death in relation to her involvement in a fatal crash back in January. She will front court later this month .
Darryl Andrew "Normie" Lynch, 33, died after his Suzuki motorcycle and Cr Hill's Holden Commodore collided at the intersection of Nathan St and Alfred St in Aitkenvale about 8am on January 30.
In a statement, Cr Hill said it was an "extremely difficult time" for all involved and affected by the incident.
"As it is a matter before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," Cr Hill said.
She confirmed she would not be standing down from the mayoralty, a position she has held since 2012.
Under Queensland's Local Government Act, a councillor is automatically suspended if they commit a "disqualifying offence" like treason or corruption.
A councillor would also be forced out of the job if made to serve a jail term, suspended or otherwise.
Driving without due care and attention causing death is not a disqualifying offence.
At the time of the crash a witness, Brendan Donza, described a plume of blue smoke and a crunch as the motorcyclist braked and collided with the left side of Cr Hill's Holden Commodore at the busy intersection.
"I've never seen something like that before in my life … it just tore me apart," he said.
Mr Lynch never regained consciousness, despite the help of an off-duty doctor, who was one of the first people on the scene.
Mr Lynch was due to appear in Townsville Magistrates Court the morning after the crash on various drug-related charges.
Cr Hill was not physically injured in the incident, but was treated for shock.
She also took a week off work and electioneering after the incident, which occurred two months before the Townsville City Council elections.
During her first public appearance two weeks after the fatal crash, Cr Hill passed on her "deepest condolences" to the family and friends of Mr Lynch during a press conference.
"Firstly for all the family and friends of the gentleman that passed away, I want to pass on my deepest condolences and sympathies," she said at the time. "It's been a tragic and very distressing event for everyone involved.
"I want to thank the members of the public that assisted on the scene on that day, as well as the paramedics, police and the firemen. I also want to thank family friends and community who reached out to me and provided support through that time."
Cr Hill was re-elected at the March 28 local government elections after securing 50.6 per cent of the vote.
Under recent changes to the Local Government Act, if a mayor or councillor vacates their position less than a year after an election, the candidate who came second place in the polls would be offered the position. Former Burdekin LNP MP Sam Cox, who is now contesting his old seat again under the Katter's Australian Party banner, was Cr Hill's closest opponent during the council election.
He told The Courier-Mail that in the hypothetical scenario he was not successful on October 31, and Cr Hill vacated her position, he would consider taking on the role.
Queensland Police in a statement said Cr Hill was due to appear in court on October 30, a day before the state election. Investigations are ongoing and a report is being prepared for the coroner.
Originally published as Mayor vows to stay in top job after fatal crash charge