Diabetic driver William Swale accused of deadly Daylesford pub smash faces court


Experts from fields including crash reconstruction and digital forensics will be called to give evidence in the case of a diabetic driver accused of ignoring medical alerts before crashing into a beer garden, killing five people.

William Herbert Swale, 67, was charged with culpable driving in December last year, a month after his white BMW allegedly ploughed into tables outside the Royal Daylesford Hotel shortly after 6pm on November 5.

Mr Swale appeared remotely in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday as the case was set down for a committal — a key court hearing to decide if the case should face trial.

Magistrate Michelle Mykytowycz was told 13 witnesses would be called to give evidence over a six-day period in December, including five experts.

These include medical experts, Dr Jenelle Hardiman from Victoria Police’s crash reconstruction unit and digital forensic scientist Luke Jennings.

Previously a court has been told police allege the New Zealand-born retiree had been making his way home after attending a multi-day national clay target shooting championship in Clunes – a half-hour drive west of Daylesford.

First responders found the Mount Macedon man unable to communicate at the scene, with witnesses describing him as “hot, sweaty and clammy”.

Police argue he is responsible for the crash after allegedly ignoring up to nine low blood sugar alerts, while his lawyers contend the incident was “fair and square a medical episode”.

“The collision can be attributed to a failure to treat his blood glucose levels,” Detective Sergeant Peter Romanis alleged in December.

Mr Swale was charged with five counts of culpable driving causing death, two counts of negligently causing injury and seven counts of recklessly placing a person in danger of death.

His lawyer, Martin Amad, has previously indicated he intends to fight the charges.

A family of three visiting from Melbourne, Pratibha Sharma, her nine-year-old daughter Anvi and partner, Jatin Kumar, were killed in the deadly crash.

Their friend Vivek Bhatia and his 11-year-old son Vihann died at the scene, while his partner Ruchi Bhatia, and 6-year-old son, Abeer, were seriously injured.

During a bail application in December last year, prosecutors outlined the alleged events before the crash.

They said Mr Swale allegedly scanned his blood glucose at 5.17pm and was made aware that his levels were “well outside” the parameters set by the app.

CCTV footage showed him entering a restaurant opposite the pub at 5.20pm asking for a table but returned to his car after he was turned away.

Further footage captured Mr Swale driving past the nearby lawn bowls club before stopping and performing a U-turn about 5.44pm.

Police allege Mr Swale, who has lived with diabetes for three decades, knew he had low blood sugar and ignored nine warnings on his phone before the crash.

Mr Amad told the court his client had been a “model patient” in managing his condition for decades and his actions on the day were “inconsistent with all he’s done previously”.

“It’s the defence case, there’s a reason for that,” he said.

“You don’t know what medical condition he was in when he checked his app at 5.17pm. We don’t know if he was in a position to adequately understand the alerts.”

Mr Swale will return to court on September 16.