Paramedic cleared of ‘conspiracy theory’

A PARAMEDIC has been cleared of a charge of wilfully interfering with an ambulance's brakes - to avoid getting into trouble - after it hit a quad bike on a dark country road.

Shayne Russell-Brereton claimed the brakes failed just before the crash, but a Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor was initially sceptical of his story.

Mareeba magistrate Thomas Braes said after that, "the die was cast'' for a circumstantial case against the long-serving paramedic, who was later criminally charged by police.

"It appears to me that this is a case where people who have no direct involvement in the matter have jumped to conclusions without any direct evidence,'' Mr Braes said.

They had then "stuck fast'' to that opinion, never stopping to evaluate the evidence or question their initial assumption, Mr Braes said.

On December 11, after hearing from 14 police prosecution witnesses and considering Mr Russell-Brereton's two police interviews, Mr Braes found him not guilty of the criminal offence.

A police prosecutor had alleged Mr Russell-Brereton interfered with the vehicle's brakes, after driving straight into the quad bike, to make it look like there had been brake failure.

It was claimed that while waiting for a tow truck, the paramedic then tried to clear himself from the fallout by using something to interfere with the brake mechanism.

Police alleged Mr Russell-Brereton was not driving to the conditions, on the rough gravel road on a dark night at Mount Surprise, in north Queensland, in September 2017.

But Mr Braes said: "There is no direct evidence the defendant interfered with the mechanism of the vehicle at all.''

Mr Braes rejected the "conspiracy theory'', saying Mr Russell-Brereton, an experienced long-serving paramedic, was not the sort of person to act in the manner alleged.

It would have meant risking his career over something that could be explained by the urgency, state of the road, unsuitability of the van for the conditions and the lights of the quad bike.

Mr Braes said evidence confirmed the ambulance had no brakes or very minimal brakes, when inspected after the accident.

A trainee paramedic who was in the ambulance said Mr Russell-Brereton told him they had brake failure, just as the ambulance collided with the quad bike.

But an advanced care paramedic who inspected the ambulance soon after the accident said the brake reservoir cap was off and brake fluid was splashed in the engine bay.

Someone else noticed a brake cylinder union nut was loose.

Mr Braes said there was no direct evidence Mr Russell-Brereton did not apply the brakes at all and no evidence he loosened or tightened the union nut.

The magistrate said the reservoir cap could have become loose and come off the brake fluid reservoir due to the rough road, causing brake fluid to splash.

Mr Braes dismissed the charge.