Traces of alcohol and ecstasy found in crash victim

Friday: 4pm THERE were gasps and tears of relief on Friday when the jury spokesman announced they had found Stevie Elizabeth Wappett not guilty for the death of her friend Alexandra Ryder.

Ms Wappett's family openly cried and hugged her when Her Honour Judge Jennifer English said the jury had made the right decision.

"In a case like this there are no winners," she said.

"This young lady will have to live with her actions for the rest of her life."

But Ms Wappett was found guilty of a mid-range drink driving offence, fined $500 and has her licence suspended for six months.

At 1pm on Friday the jury had reported t Judge English they had been unable to reach a unanimous decision.

It was the second time the jury had informed Judge English of this situation, and she reminded them of their duty and urge them to revisit their decisions and consider the evidence.

Judge English then called for a lunch break.

But on their return the jury spent only two minutes in the courtroom after they asked a question regarding Ms Wappett's statement.

After answering the question the jury then retreated for another hour before making their not guilty verdict.

Outside the courtroom, family members openly cried as they hugged Ms Wappett.

The pair had partied in Byron Bay on the night of the crash, on Skinners Shoot Rd, just outside town.Friday

Tuesday 2.15pm: POPULAR waitress Alexandra Ryder had traces of alcohol and ecstasy in her blood the night she was while killed while standing in the sunroof of her friend's moving car, a court has heard.

Ms Ryder and the driver, Stevie Elizabeth Wappett, had been partying in Byron Bay on the night of the crash, which occurred on Skinners Shoot Rd, an unlit country road a few kilometres outside the tourist town.

During Wappett's trial in Lismore District Court this morning, Crown prosecutor Peter Davies read out a pathologist's report to the jury which had detected both MDMA and an alcohol concentration of .13% in Ms Ryder's blood.

The court heard the car was travelling at a speed of about 64kmh when it crashed into a tree on the side of the road, based on an analysis by investigators.

Ms Ryder was standing on the passenger seat at the time of the impact with her head and upper body out of the sunroof.

Witness Julian Peron, a Canadian national, arrived at the scene within five minutes of the crash.

He saw the silver Honda Accord off to the left side of the road with its headlights still on and the airbags inflated.

Both women were in still the car.

Mr Peron said Wappett "seemed in shock but she was speaking" while Ms Ryder was lying unconscious on the passenger seat.

He and another man Evan Banfield helped pull Ms Ryder from the car and attempted to clear her airway and perform CPR for about 15 minutes before paramedics arrived.

Mr Peron told the court: "I needed to know if she (Ryder) was under the influence of drugs or alcohol".

He said Wappett told him "yes to both".

Mr Banfield, who lived nearby, told the court when he arrived at the scene he saw Wappett "wandering about on the road" while talking on her phone saying "have I killed her, have I killed her".

A police officer who arrived shortly after the two men, Senior Constable Rebecca Krilich, described Wappett as "inconsolable" over the crash.

A forensic police officer who analysed the crash scene said the weather was fine on the night, and the bitumen was dry.

The trial continues.

Tuesday 9.36am: IT was a fun night out in Byron Bay shared by two young friends and co-workers who had the world at their feet.

But by the end of the evening, one of the women had sustained fatal injuries in a car crash on a notorious Byron Bay road, while the other would be charged over her death.

Just before midnight on March 24, 2015, Stevie Elizabeth Wappett, then 22, was driving her friend Alexandra Ryder, 29, home along Skinners Shoot Rd on the outskirts of Byron Bay.

The young women had spent a night out at the Railway Hotel and the Great Northern.

The crown alleges they had both had a few drinks, letting off steam from their work waitressing at Newrybar's Harvest Café.

It was during the drive a song came on the car stereo which prompted Miss Ryder to "move about in her seat" and then suddenly stand up through the sunroof of the 1997 Honda Accord.

Moments later the car crashed, and Miss Ryder sustained fatal injuries.

She was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital where she later died.

Wappett, of Alstonville, is on trial in Lismore District Court for two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death - driving in a manner dangerous and driving under the influence. She is also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

In his opening address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Peter Davies said the crucial issue for the jury was deciding whether or not Wappett's driving caused the death, or alternatively whether actions by the deceased may have contributed to the tragedy.

He noted that officers who arrived on the scene after the crash observed Wappett to "be affected by intoxicating liquor" when they arrived.

But Wappett's defence barrister Matthew Johnston SC said the "few drinks" which Wappett had admitted to drinking did not impair her ability to drive the car safely, and at least one witness would give evidence that she was not "out of it".

Mr Johnston said Miss Ryder had stood up "moments before" the crash at a "reasonably precarious" spot in the road.

"Before Ms Wappett was aware of it Ms Ryder was standing through the roof," he said.

"It's not as though Miss Ryder had been dancing out of the window for hundreds of metres."

The whole thing happened in a "very very tight timeframe" and Wappett "didn't have sufficient time to deal with it".

A friend of the two women, William Thomas Jane gave evidence about to conversation between him and Wappett later that night while she was recovering in Byron Bay Hospital.

Mr Jane said Wappett had told him she tried to pull Ms Ryder back down from the sunroof by tugging on her shirt, and in those few moments lost control of the car.

Another witness, Ashley Small, attended the crash after hearing the impact from his home nearby.

He variously described Wappett as "pale", "very distraught" and "anxious" when he arrived at the scene.

Mr Small also said the stretch of road was "notorious" for accidents.

The trial is expected to hear from more witnesses including Wappett herself when it continues tomorrow.

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