Friday, December 8, 2023

Tragic new details emerge about Dhirren Randhawa who allegedly ran over SA police commissioner’s son Charlie Stevens

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A teenage driver accused of killing the SA Police Commissioner’s son was an ‘aspiring doctor’ who ‘never drank’ – as new details emerge about the alleged hit-and-run.

Charlie Stevens, 18, was with friends waiting for a bus to head to Schoolies celebrations in Victor Harbor when he was allegedly struck by Dhirren Randhawa, also 18, in Goolwa, south of Adelaide, about 9pm on Friday.

Mr Stevens died 22 hours later in hospital, while Mr Randhawa was arrested a short time later on a nearby street after allegedly fleeing the scene.

Now, just hours before the P-plate driver faced court for the first time on Monday, friends of the Randhawa family have spoken out in defence of the teenager.

While police will allege Randhawa performed a U-turn, sped up, and was on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash, loved ones say he is a ‘good kid’ who is close to his single mother and younger brother and sister.

Dhirren Randhawa, 18, (pictured leaving Christies Beach Magistrates’ Court in Adelaide on Monday) has been charged over the death of Charlie Stevens

Charlie Stevens (pictured) has been remembered by devastated loved ones as a 'beautiful boy'

Charlie Stevens (pictured) has been remembered by devastated loved ones as a ‘beautiful boy’

Relatives told media Randhawa, a former Victor Harbor School graduate, has been working as an apprentice barber at a local hairdressers – where he is very popular among clients – and has been dating his high school sweetheart for the past year.

They said Randhawa, who has dreams of becoming a doctor, has never had an alcoholic drink, taken drugs, or smoked cigarettes. 

Aside from work, he helped rescue dogs within the area and loved spending time with his two pet Akitas, Hachi and Bella, who he walked daily. 

On top of his apprenticeship, he was also considering continuing his education at university. 

Friends say Randhawa’s tight-knit family, who live in Encounter Bay, are well known in the local community and are ‘devastated’ by the crash. 

They have hired former Nine Network newsreader Georgina McGuiness as a media advisor and barrister Jane Abbey KC to help with Randhawa’s legal case. 

The fresh insight comes as the allegations levelled against Randhawa were laid bare in Christies Beach Magistrates Court on Monday. 

According to court documents, police will allege Randhawa caused death by dangerous driving based on the accounts of three eyewitnesses who were with Mr Stevens on Friday night. 

It is believed Mr Stevens – the son of SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens – had been staying at his family’s beach house and was waiting at a nearby bus stop to for a shuttle bus to schoolies festivities at the time of the alleged crash.

Charlie is pictured with his dad, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens

Charlie is pictured with his dad, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens

Tributes have poured in online for Charlie, who had recently started a carpentry apprenticeship

Tributes have poured in online for Charlie, who had recently started a carpentry apprenticeship

Police will claim that moments before the tragedy Mr Stevens had ‘flagged down’ Randhawa as he drove past to see if they could get a ride, but there was not enough room for them all.

Daily Mail Australia does not suggest there was any animosity between the groups.

Police will allege that as Randhawa drove away, the three witnesses were standing on the grass verge on the road’s western side while Mr Stevens was near the south-bound traffic lane.  

As the group continued walking toward the gravel verge, Randhawa performed a U-turn, started to travel on the incorrect side of the road and struck Mr Stevens, police allege. 

However, a female passenger in Randhawa’s car has given police a second version of events, claiming she saw Mr Stevens ‘run across the road, into the path’ of the vehicle. 

She allegedly saw a few males walking on the western side of the road and partially on the footpath, as well as another male on the eastern side of the road.

She alleges the male on the eastern side of the road ran across the road into the path of Randhawa’s car. 

The witness, police allege, told officers Randhawa drove a short distance away, where he called his mother to ask whether he should call police or go to a police station in person.

The witness allegedly said police turned up while Randhawa was on the phone and he surrendered himself.  

Flowers and teddy bears have been left at the site of the alleged hit and run in honour of Mr Stevens

Flowers and teddy bears have been left at the site of the alleged hit and run in honour of Mr Stevens

Family friends say Randhawa (pictured) is a family-oriented kid who had dreams of becoming a doctor

Family friends say Randhawa (pictured) is a family-oriented kid who had dreams of becoming a doctor 

On Saturday, Randhawa’s mother shared a statement offering her condolences to the Stevens family. 

‘I extend my deepest possible sympathies to the Stevens family and my heart is breaking to think of the suffering and pain they are experiencing,’ she said.

‘Out of respect and acknowledging that this is now a matter for the courts, I won’t be saying anything further at this time.’

Randhawa was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving, aggravated driving without due care, leaving the scene of a crash after causing death and failing to truly answer questions.

If convicted, he faces a maximum 15 years in jail and disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for 10 years or such longer period as the court orders.

Police are investigating if the magnetic blue 2011 Volkswagen Golf hatchback Randhawa was allegedly driving was permitted to be driven by a P-plater.

According to online car guide, the five-door Golf can reach 100km/hm in less than six seconds. The car retails for $52,490 brand new or up to $16,000 second hand.

Under driving licence laws, P-platers are barred from driving certain vehicles which may be considered ‘high performance’ cars. 

Family friends have said the car was a ‘standard edition’. 

Meanwhile, tributes have begun to amass outside the bus station where the alleged accident unfolded on Friday – the first night of schoolies celebrations.

Randhawa’s mother issued a statement on Saturday offering her condolences to the Stevens family.

Charlie Stevens, 18, was in Goolwa Beach celebrating schoolies on Friday when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Rd at about 9pm

Charlie Stevens, 18, was in Goolwa Beach celebrating schoolies on Friday when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Rd at about 9pm 

Charlie was flown to hospital in a serious condition following the collision. Picture: 7 NEWS

Charlie was flown to hospital in a serious condition following the collision. Picture: 7 NEWS

‘I extend my deepest possible sympathies to the Stevens family and my heart is breaking to think of the suffering and pain they are experiencing,’ she said in a statement.

‘Out of respect and acknowledging that this is now a matter for the courts, I won’t be saying anything further at this time.’

In a family statement from Sunday night shared by SA Police, Commissioner Stevens and Mrs Stevens thanked the police, first responders and other emergency services workers who attended the incident.

‘The Stevens family also wish to thank the wider community for their support during this difficult time in particular the family acknowledge the dedicated staff at the Flinders Medical Centre for their care and support of Charlie and his family and friends.’

Daily Mail Australia understands Commissioner Stevens will take indefinite leave to be with his family as they grieve.

The court hearing continues.  

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