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Man guilty of SA crash that killed friend

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016

A South Australian man who veered off a highway while he was drowsy and on drugs has been found guilty of causing a woman's death.

William Ferguson's four-wheel drive ran off the Lincoln Highway and rolled near Port Lincoln in October 2015, killing his friend Malinda Francis in the passenger seat.

District Court Judge Gordon Barrett on Wednesday found 31-year-old Ferguson guilty of aggravated driving causing death and of driving while his licence was suspended.

He said Ferguson had amphetamines in his system, had been awake for a long time and had likely fallen asleep at the wheel at the time of the crash.

"I think that the most likely explanation is that he momentarily fell asleep," Judge Barrett said in his reasons for the verdict.

"That is one of the consequences of taking methylamphetamine. After long wakefulness people's tiredness eventually catches up with them."

Witnesses in another car behind Ferguson's said they saw his Land Rover miss a bend and drive smoothly off the road before it rolled on to its roof.

Ferguson, a prawn fisherman from Port Lincoln, claimed a large rock on the dashboard had fallen on to his gear stick and distracted him, while two kangaroos were also on the road and he could not avoid veering off.

But Judge Barrett dismissed the evidence of the kangaroos, saying witnesses did not see them and that Ferguson was simply exhausted and on drugs.

"I completely reject the accused's account of the lead-up to the crash. I think he has manufactured a story," the judge said.

"There was no sudden jerking caused by a rock dislodging in the car or by kangaroos outside it.

"The reason why the accused drove off the road was because he was affected by methylamphetamine."

Ferguson will return to court later this month for sentencing submissions.

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