Fatal Albion Park Rail crash: trial date set for Darren Butler and Andrew Russell

Left: Berkeley father-of-seven Daniel Merrett was killed in a fatal fuel tanker crash at Albion Park Rail last May. Bottom right: Co-accused: Darren Butler and Andrew Russell.
Left: Berkeley father-of-seven Daniel Merrett was killed in a fatal fuel tanker crash at Albion Park Rail last May. Bottom right: Co-accused: Darren Butler and Andrew Russell.

Darren Butler and Andrew Russell will stand trial mid-next year on a charge of manslaughter stemming from a fatal fuel tanker crash in 2019 that killed father-of-seven Daniel Merrett.

The duo fronted Wollongong District Court for the first time on Tuesday. They were not formally arraigned on the charge, but have previously indicated pleas of not guilty in the Local Court.

Judge Andrew Haesler set a trial date of May 31, 2021. The trial is expected to last up to a month and will take place almost two years to the date since Mr Merrett's death.

Prosecutors will allege Butler was driving and Russell a passenger in a silver Toyota Corolla that was chasing a Ford Territory containing Mr Merrett and three passengers when the Territory slammed into a truck on the Princes Highway at Albion Park Rail in the early hours of May 18.

Mr Merrett was ejected from the vehicle on impact and died instantly.

Prosecutors will allege an argument over a $150 debt preceded the chase.

Butler and Russell were initially charged with murder, however prosecutors dropped that charge in the Local Court recently in lieu of the manslaughter charge.

Butler and Russell are expected to be arraigned - where the charges will be read out to them and formal pleas recorded - on August 11.

Butler is also facing dangerous driving charges over his alleged involvement in the crash.

This story Fatal Albion Park Rail crash: trial date set for Butler, Russell first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.