Outback death clues in cop-chase case

Source: The Courier

New details on the mystery death of a Victorian man found in the Australian outback last November were revealed in court yesterday.

Bryan Gadd, 33, was found dead near a remote waterhole 150 kilometres from Broken Hill on November 14.

His body was found one kilometre from where the small car he was travelling in had crashed, days earlier.

Yesterday Ballarat man Jacob Aspland, 21, who was with Gadd when he died, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to a range of offences, including an hour-long police pursuit on January 23.

During the hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates Court, it was revealed Aspland was with Gadd during the ordeal in the outback.

Defence counsel Scott Belcher said Gadd died of a heart attack soon after becoming lost, leaving Aspland alone with the body.

"(Aspland) spent one-and-a half-days keeping ants and flies off Bryan's body," Mr Belcher told the court.

"It would have been a traumatic experience for a young bloke."

The court heard SES crews found Gadd at the waterhole, and later Aspland, who had walked to a nearby farming station.

Mr Belcher said Aspland was taken to the Broken Hill Hospital, but checked himself out soon after.

In November, it was reported that a 24 year old woman, who also travelled with the pair, walked almost 20 kilometres to raise the alarm.

Magistrate Terry Wilson sentenced Aspland to a 24 month term of imprisonment yesterday after hearing evidence of the recent pursuit and further offences last year, including criminal damage by fire.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble said on January 23 this year, Aspland was driving a ute and was observed running a red light in Sebastopol.

The court heard a pursuit was initiated, which lasted an hour as Aspland led police to Buninyong, then to Shelford, Teesdale and eventually Bannockburn, where he came to a stop at a roundabout and was arrested.

Mr Belcher said his client had imagined Gadd sitting in the passenger seat next to him during the pursuit, "telling him to keep going".

Senior Constable Prebble said the pursuit put lives at risk and said Aspland's driving was "erratic", including one time where he drove into a roadside ditch to avoid police "stop-sticks".

Aspland called Magistrate Wilson a "dog" and a "rat" after being sentenced, before being taken to the Ballarat police station cells.

Mr Wilson deplored the 21-year- old's behaviour.

"You've had a number of chances, but you have not chosen to lead a law-abiding life," he told Aspland.

"It's the best years of your life and you've wasted them."

Fairfax was unsuccessful in attempts to contact Bryan Gadd's family yesterday.

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