ACT News


Accused was out on bail

The man allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen car when it mowed down two women, killing one, was on bail at the time of the horrific crash.

Justin Lee Monfries is accused of killing Linda Cox and seriously injuring Ashlee Bumpus outside the Canberra Hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Police allege Monfries ploughed into the women after running a red light, while trying to evade police in a stolen car that had fled from the scene of an earlier crash in Hughes.

The tragic death of Mrs Cox, who worked as a senior cardiac technician at the hospital, has hit staff hard.

Many witnesses and friends have received counselling, and staff were visibly distressed yesterday, laying flowers at the scene and leaving messages in memory of Mrs Cox.

The victims were named in the ACT Magistrates Court yesterday, when Monfries made an appearance.


He was dressed in hospital pyjamas and appeared emotional as he was brought before the court following his discharge from hospital.

Monfries has been charged with manslaughter, culpable driving occasioning death and culpable driving causing injury and taking and using a car without consent.

The 24-year-old also faces charges of not stopping to give assistance after an accident causing death and injury and failing to give particulars after a crash.

Lawyer Sarah Boxall, of Craig Lynch and Associates, asked for Monfries to be marked as a prisoner at risk because of the nature of the crime and his mental health issues.

The Kambah man had been on bail for a matter of just weeks before Thursday's tragedy, and did not apply for release yesterday.

Monfries, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence allegations currently before the Magistrates Court.

Last year, psychiatrist Graham George, in a report prepared for an unrelated matter in the Supreme Court, noted Monfries had been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. But the defendant has previously been found fit to plead.

The report also noted Monfries had a history of abusing cannabis, amphetamine, methamphetamine, alcohol and inhalants.

The accused man, who has yet to enter pleas, is alleged to have stolen the red Toyota Camry earlier on the day of the accident.

Shortly before the tragic collision, police say Monfries fled the scene of another crash on Webster Street in Hughes, failing to leave details.

And, after allegedly running a red light and striking Mrs Cox and Ms Bumpus, the Camry ploughed into another vehicle on Hindmarsh Drive, leaving Monfries with minor injuries.

The defendant had a bandage on his head when he was brought before magistrate Peter Dingwall yesterday.

Prosecutor Travis Jackson said the brief of evidence would take about six weeks to prepare.

Mrs Cox was a dedicated senior member of the hospital's cardiology department. In 2010, she received an award for a breakthrough system that greatly reduced the time it took for heart attack sufferers to receive life-saving treatment at hospital.

That system, named the Early Access to Treatment System, allowed ambulance officers to transmit critical patient data, including an electrocardiogram, to hospital cardiologists while a patient was still en-route.

Her death has put a renewed focus on the safety of the staff car parks at the hospital, which sit on the opposite side of the 80km/h Yamba Drive.

Health Directorate director-general Peggy Brown said she spoke with Chief Minister Katy Gallagher yesterday about the safety of the road. Ms Gallagher said she would consult with staff about whether more pedestrian safety measures should be installed on Yamba Drive.

''My own gut feeling is that we should talk with staff about how they're feeling and if there are … ongoing safety concerns about crossing Yamba Drive, we need to see what we can do about that,'' Ms Gallagher said. with Peter Jean