Man accused of hit and run appears in front of the Port Augusta Magistrates Court

A tribute has been erected to the couple by friends and family on Caroona Road.
A tribute has been erected to the couple by friends and family on Caroona Road.

The dangers of drink-driving were raised with a motorist before he was involved in a hit-run crash killing two people, a court heard.

Prosecution told the Port Augusta Magistrates Court that Matthew Thomas of Port Augusta had an altercation with his wife after he had been drinking at the Hotel Augusta.

About 1am on Saturday, the altercation had taken place between the couple when the woman told Thomas she would not be drink-driving home, the court heard.

Thomas had left the hotel alone then travelled in his vehicle along Caroona Road, hitting a 50-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, it was alleged.

Both Stephen 'Dicky' Press and partner Naomi Braden died at the scene as a result of their injuries.

Thomas, a 39-year-old father-of-two, was overcome with emotion as he stood in the dock in front of a packed gallery of supporters.

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

The prosecution spoke of Thomas having stakes in the hotel.

EVIDENCE: The badly damaged Toyota was located just after 12.30pm on Saturday and was forensically examined before being seized and towed to the Port Augusta impound yard. Photo: Jason Fry.

EVIDENCE: The badly damaged Toyota was located just after 12.30pm on Saturday and was forensically examined before being seized and towed to the Port Augusta impound yard. Photo: Jason Fry.

The prosecutor said that Thomas had told police that he saw the couple from at least 500 metres away.

Thomas had said the weather was dry, he was not distracted and he did not believe the pair had moved farther onto the road.

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

The court heard that his wife had told police that Thomas called her, crying and saying: "I killed a person, I killed them."

She then had been dropped home by a friend and implored Thomas to report the crash.

About noon on Saturday, Thomas handed himself into the Port Augusta Police Station where he made "full and frank" admissions.

Thomas 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.

A bail report is being prepared for the court, including details of potential home detention.

Thomas will appear in court again on Friday.

The prosecution asked for four months to prepare toxicology report and other evidence before a "charge determination hearing" is scheduled.

A total of $7540 has been raised amid an outpouring of grief by family and friends.

SCENE: Major Crash Investigators arrived at the scene, with Caroona Road closed to traffic for hours. Photo: Jason Fry.

SCENE: Major Crash Investigators arrived at the scene, with Caroona Road closed to traffic for hours. Photo: Jason Fry.