Driver in fatal Christmas Day smash had ‘terrible’ history of drink driving, speeding and drugs

A man charged with driving dangerously and killing a mother and daughter on Christmas Day has been caught speeding more than 20 times and slapped with 74 demerit points, court documents reveal.

Mark Jason Veneris was allegedly affected by drugs and alcohol when his car hit a tree and collided head-on with the Tritton family car at Manly West on Brisbane’s bayside.

Makayla Tritton, 18, died at the scene and her mother Karin died in hospital the following day.

Makayla’s father Laurence and sister Tarmeka were also injured in the crash, but survived.

Documents filed in the Supreme Court in Brisbane during Mr Veneris’s bail hearing last week reveal the extent of his 29-year traffic history, which was described by Justice John Bond as “terrible”.

The 46-year-old was refused bail because he couldn’t be trusted to stay off the road.

Traffic records tendered by the prosecution show since 1989, Mr Veneris has been caught speeding 22 times. The most serious was in 2003, when he was caught driving more than 30kph over the limit and recorded six demerit points.

In 2008, he was convicted and fined $1,400 with 23 days’ imprisonment after he was recorded driving with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.183 per cent.

Mr Veneris’ licence had been disqualified five times, he had been caught driving unlicensed on three occasions and accumulated traffic fines of more than $8,300.

The court documents also revealed he was fined for possessing dangerous drugs in 1991, 1998 and 2008.

Medical documents tendered to the court showed Mr Veneris had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.019 per cent after the Christmas Day crash as well as traces of methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.

The court heard one of the first responders at the scene, Dr Julia Farrington, told police she “detected quite a strong odour of alcohol coming from the driver” of the black vehicle as she tried to help him.

Father, sister describe horrific crash

Mr Tritton was in the front-passenger seat at the time of the crash and told police the family was driving to Christmas lunch.

“I remember going over the Gateway Bridge heading south and the next thing I just woke and looked around and noticed the car wasn’t moving,” he said in a witness statement tendered to the court.

“I looked to Tarmeka and turned to look at Makayla, then to Karin who was laying down.

“I heard voices telling me not to move and I just remained still. I realised at that stage I was involved in a crash.”

The court documents state Tarmeka Tritton, who was driving, suffered a broken ankle, collapsed lung and fractured rib.

The 23-year-old told police in a witness statement that she saw “a tree flying through the air” before a car hit them head on.

“I don’t really remember what happened then, except that I called out to dad, he spoke back,” she said.

“I then called out to mum, she mumbled back to me and then I tried to call out to Makayla.

“I didn’t get an answer from Makayla.”

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Video: Police left traumatised after double fatality (ABC News)

Witnesses say they saw car speeding

In other witness statements tendered to the court, driver Klaus Haberl told police he saw a black BMW travelling at high speed in a 70-kilometre-per-hour zone before the crash.

“I can’t be certain what speed he was doing, but if I had to estimate he would have been doing 90-95 kph,” Mr Haberl said in a statement.

“All of a sudden the BMW swerved hard right across both lanes, mounted the median strip through shrubs and hit a tree.

“I did not see any brake lights at any stage from the moment I saw him and when he veered off to the right.”

Another driver, John O’Donnell, told police he estimated the “speed of the black vehicle as about 100 kph as it passed us”.

Mr Veneris is facing multiple charges of dangerous driving causing death and possessing dangerous drugs.

His barrister Ken Fleming QC told the court during his client’s bail hearing that the prosecution case on the driving charges was strong but it wasn’t strong on the drug charges.

Mr Veneris has not been required to enter a plea to the charges.

The case will return to the Wynnum Magistrates Court for mention next month.