Harrison Kitt pleads not guilty over crash that killed two, including senior SA Police officer

A young man who allegedly caused a crash that killed a senior police officer and a mother in April has pleaded not guilty.

Harrison Kitt pleaded not guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing aggravated harm by dangerous driving in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday morning.

David Edwardson QC, for Mr Kitt, told the court that his client has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and has manic episodes and psychotic features.

He said the diagnosis had been confirmed by a clinical psychiatrist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Senior police officer Joanne Shanahan and mother Tania McNeill died in the crash at the intersection of Cross Road and Fullarton Road at Urrbrae on April 25.

Ms Shanahan’s husband, Peter Shanahan, was driving the couple’s Holden SUV and was taken to hospital for treatment before being discharged.

Senior police officer Joanne Shanahan and mother Tania McNeill died in the crash on April 25.(ABC News: Claire Campbell)

The court heard reports into Mr Kitt’s mental competence could not be ordered until he has been committed to the District Court.

Mr Kitt has been ordered to stand trial in the District Court of South Australia.

Under the legislation — section 269c of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act — in order to find a defendant mentally incompetent, a court has to be satisfied the defendant was not able to appreciate or control their actions.

Magistrate Jay McGrath set an arraignment date in the District Court for January 15, 2021.

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Harrison Kitt charged over crash that killed two, including SA Police officer Joanne Shanahan

A 20-year-old man involved in a fatal collision which took the lives of two women on Anzac Day has today been arrested and charged with numerous offences, SA’s Police Commissioner says.

Commissioner Grant Stevens told media at a daily coronavirus press briefing that the young man, revealed in a statement by his parents as Harrison Kitt, has been charged with two counts of driving without due care and causing death.

He was also charged with one count of causing harm.

The crash involved three cars at the intersection of Cross Road and Fullarton Road at Urrbrae, east of Adelaide, just after 1:30pm on April 25.

Witnesses described seeing a Volkswagen ute “flying through the air” from the second-storey window of a nearby home.

Commissioner Stevens visited the scene on the day and later described it as “absolute carnage and shocking to see”.

The crash took the lives of highly regarded SA Police Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan, 55, and “kind and loving wife, mother, daughter and sister” Tania McNeill, 53.

Chief Superintendent Shanahan’s husband Peter was driving the Holden SUV she was a passenger in at the time, but he escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.

The multi-car crash took place at Urrbrae on April 25.(ABC News: Claire Campbell)

The driver of the Volkswagen ute, Mr Kitt, was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

SA Police today said Major Crash Officers charged Mr Kitt with two counts of aggravated causing death by dangerous driving and one count of aggravated causing harm by dangerous driving.

He has been bailed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on July 8.

On Friday, his parents released a statement that described how they had been worried about their son’s mental health in the days leading up to the crash.

Mr Kitt’s parents said it was “impossible to find the words to describe the depth of our despair”.

“We have only known our son, Harrison, to be a kind, responsible and compassionate young man,” Andrew and Kathy Kitt said.

“Harry was not himself and his behaviour had become so uncharacteristic that just a short time before the accident, one of his friends had called us to express his concerns for Harry’s welfare.”

Joanne Shanahan’s life to be celebrated

A portrait of Assistant Police Commissioner Joanne Shanahan.
SA Police Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan was killed in a crash at Urrbrae on Saturday.(ABC News: Simon Royal)

Commissioner Stevens said Chief Superintendent Shanahan would be remembered by her family in a service on May 8 at 11:00am.

“The funeral service will be held in a way that enables as many people as possible who knew or cared about Joanne or her family to be involved, and the South Australia Police will be playing its part as well.

“The hearse will be travelling from Joanne’s home address along a specified route, so anyone who would like to come outside and pay their respects as the hearse travels that route will be able to do so.”

South Australia has now had five double fatalities recorded on its roads in 2020, after a head-on collision killed two brothers on Victor Harbor Road on Saturday afternoon.

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