Kiwi bailed over Brisbane road rage death

  • 18/12/2015
Kiwi bailed over Brisbane road rage death

By Miranda Forster

A man killed in a roadside scuffle with a New Zealander on a Brisbane motorway had a history of road rage complaints and was even given a written warning about his driving behaviour.

Shane Merrigan, 50, died after he was allegedly pushed into the path of an oncoming truck by a punch from Tamate Henry Heke as the pair faced off on the roadside at Eight Mile Plains on December 1.

Heke, 36, is charged with murder but was granted bail in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.

The court heard that while the father-of-three had by all accounts been a model citizen, Mr Merrigan had a history of being involved in road rage dramas.

A sworn statement from Mr Merrigan's former employer, pallet supplier Macrack Australia, said their office received three complaints from members of the public about road incidents involving Mr Merrigan between 2010 and 2012.

Mr Merrigan worked as an installer for Macrack.

The statement from Joanne Glasson of Macrack said that in February 2010 someone complained that Mr Merrigan harassed a woman on the side of the road on a freeway.

The company paid for a defensive driving course for its installers, but more complaints about Mr Merrigan followed - one in March 2011 and another in June 2012.

He was given a formal warning after the 2011 complaint, and a note on his file said he had been counselled and asked to modify his driving.

Heke reportedly told police that Mr Merrigan tailgated him on the Gateway, made rude gestures and pulled off the road ahead of him in the lead-up to the fight.

The court heard that many witnesses gave conflicting and, at times, graphic accounts.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said the case for manslaughter was stronger than for murder.

In granting bail, she said there was no suggestion Heke would pose a risk to anyone if strict bail conditions - including a ban on driving - were imposed.

Almost a dozen people turned up to the hearing in support of the New Zealand-born Heke, including his fiancee, who had been due to marry him this month.

"He's a lovely guy in a bad situation," Heke's lawyer Adam Magill told reporters.

"It will come out in the wash, what's happened."

The case is due to return to court on January 25.

NZN