Street race accused facing manslaughter

Dylan Cossey and his co-accused Stephen Jones are now facing manslaughter charges after a quadruple fatal crash on the outskirts of Hamilton last year. Photo/Belinda Feek

By Belinda Feek

Two Hamilton men facing charges after a crash which killed four people on the outskirts of Hamilton have had their charges upgraded to manslaughter.

Dylan Cossey and Stephen John Jones, both 20, reappeared in the Hamilton District Court today after a crash that killed young friends: Hamilton woman Hannah Leis Strickett-Craze, 24, Te Awamutu man Paul De Silva, 20, Lance Robinson, 28, of Te Awamutu, and Jason McCormick Ross, 19, of Stratford. Matthew Scheepers of Hamilton was seriously injured.

The crash happened on Ohaupo Rd, at the intersection of Ingram Rd, outside Hamilton Airport, on June 24 last year when a northbound Nissan Skyline collided with Scheepers' southbound van.

Two of those killed were parents of young sons under 5 years of age. Strickett-Craze was the mother of Levi, and De Silva was the father of Cosmo. They died after their northbound white Nissan Skyline collided with a southbound Hamilton Plumbing Company van.

At the time, police said speed and alcohol were believed to be factors in the crash. Police also investigated if the car had been in an "illegal street race".

Stephen Jones leaving Hamilton District Court after his first appearance in December. Photo/Belinda Feek
Stephen Jones leaving Hamilton District Court after his first appearance in December. Photo/Belinda Feek

The pair originally faced charges of either encouraging unnecessary speed leading to the injuries to Scheepers and the deaths of Ross, Robinson, De Silva and Strickett-Craze, or in Cossey's case, operating a motor vehicle on a road causing death, as well as another charge of operating a motor vehicle causing injury and failing to stop.

In a packed courtroom this morning, the Crown confirmed it had upgraded the charges to four each of manslaughter. It means the case will now be heard in the High Court and the accused face a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.

The accused had many supporters but there were also members of the victims' families and friends to hear the change.

The two were remanded on further bail by Judge Kim Saunders to reappear in the High Court at Hamilton on April 4.

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