Kiwi lawyer was lying on the road before fatal Sydney hit-and-run, court told

By Lia Harris, ABC crime reporter

A rideshare driver has been granted bail after being charged over the death of a Sydney lawyer who was found lying on a road last Sunday morning.

Former real estate agent Zisi Kokotatsios, 63, was arrested and charged on Friday with dangerous driving occasioning death and failing to stop and assist after a crash causing death.

Mitch East, 28, was found dead on Fletcher Street in Tamarama shortly after 4am on Sunday 17 March.

He had previously worked at the Supreme Court of New Zealand and as an adviser for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Kokotatsios faced Parramatta bail court on Saturday morning, where the court was told he was on his way to pick up a rideshare passenger when he allegedly ran over East, who was lying on the road. It is not yet clear why East was on the road at the time of the incident.

The court heard that CCTV from a neighbour showed the car “lifted up” when it ran over the man, before slowing down briefly and then driving off.

In opposing Kokotatsios’s bail application, the prosecutor told the court it was a strong case and there was “no doubt the occupant knew he struck something”.

“If he’d stopped and had a look to see what he’d hit he would’ve seen a person lying on the road,” he told the court.

The prosecution will also allege Kokotatsios was using his phone at the time of the crash.

But his defence lawyer Mohamad Sakr told the court his phone was mounted on the dashboard and he was not using it illegally.

He also told the court Kokotatsios continued picking up passengers after the incident and there was no evidence he knew he had run over a person.

“Had he known he had hit a person my client would’ve stopped and rendered aid and assisted the young man,” he told the court.

“Your honour can draw a reasonable inference that my client has a defendable case.”

Sakr told the court his client had no criminal history and had offered his “condolences to the family” of the victim.

The magistrate sided with the defence, telling the court the prosecution “has difficulties” with their case and that Kokotatsios “deserved bail”.

Kokotatsios will be required to report to a police station once a week and is banned from driving while his case is before the courts.

He is due to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 9 May.

This story was originally published by the ABC.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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