A Bendigo man has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving resulting in the death of a Heathcote woman and serious injury to two others.
On Wednesday magistrate Phillip Goldberg committed David Greer Mummery to stand trial on one charge of dangerous driving causing death and two charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The charges relate to a crash that occurred on the Heathcote-Nagambie Road at Graytown on the afternoon of July 13 last year, which left a 55-year-old woman dead and her two daughters hospitalised with serious injuries. Mr Mummery sustained significant injuries.
Mr Mummery is also charged with two summary offences of careless driving and failing to keep to the left side of the road.
Mr Goldberg ruled it was up to a jury to determine whether the crash was the result of driver inattention, or whether there was another possibility.
More court news: Bendigo burglar sentenced to time in prison
During cross-examination of some witnesses in the hearing, defence counsel Simon Gillespie-Jones raised the possibility a tyre blowout or other vehicle fault led to the crash.
Detective Senior Constable Melanie McFarlane from Victoria Police's Collision Reconstruction and Mechanical Investigation Unit told the court there was no evidence of a tyre blowout on Mr Mummery's vehicle.
DSC McFarlane said she would expect to see tyre marks on the road and a significant change in steering recorded on the airbag control module, but there were none.
During cross-examination from Mr Gillespie-Jones, she said the response of a driver to a tyre blowout could result in no marks on the road.
In the seconds before the crash the steering wheel was turning to the left around a bend, the court heard, but between 2.4 seconds and 1.4 seconds before the crash the vehicle appeared to have moved towards the opposite side of the road.
DSC McFarlane said the direction a vehicle with a blowout to the front right-side tyre would travel would depend on the response of the driver, but on a straight stretch of road with no cornering or cambering, it would probably travel towards that side.
She told the court that 2.4 seconds before a collision she would expect to see emergency braking as the majority of people responded within 1.5 seconds, but she saw no evidence this had occurred.
The court heard there was some braking 0.4 seconds before impact.
More court news: Grandmother teary, unsteady in police cell footage
DSC McFarlane said she also received no evidence of failures in the brakes, stability control system or the steering system.
Senior Constable Brett Gardner from the Mechanical Investigation Unit inspected the vehicle in the yard following the crash and told the court the front right-hand tyre had a large cut on the side wall, where the vehicle's bull bar had been bent back.
In his opinion, the damage was inconsistent with a blowout.
The court heard the steering mechanisms were badly damaged, and SC Gardner said it could be difficult to determine in such cases to determine whether components were damaged before the crash or by it.
He said electronic systems were not tested.
A man who was driving behind Mr Mummery's vehicle prior to the crash said he saw nothing unusual about the vehicle's operation, but it became obscured by trees as it entered a bend.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Jamie Mitchell told the court that what happened to the wrecks of vehicles involved in major crashes depended on the owners and insurance companies.
He said he did not have a conversation with Mr Mummery about having his vehicle inspected himself, but he was aware of where the vehicle was and knew it was being held for a police investigation.
Mr Gillespie-Jones submitted a jury would have to exclude all other possible causes to find Mr Mummery guilty of dangerous driving, but the expert evidence supported another finding.
But the matter will go to the County Court, where a directions hearing will be held next month.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.