A Northlander accused of causing the deaths of his wife, a daughter and another person while driving under the influence of alcohol has elected trial by jury.

In a short appearance in the Dargaville District Court yesterday, Russell Stewart, 49, pleaded not guilty to three of aggravated careless driving causing death, four charges of aggravated careless driving causing injury, and one of failing to stop to check injury after an accident.

He is alleged to have caused the deaths of his wife Susanna Stewart, 48, their daughter Sadie, 16, and friend James Wearmouth, 18, who were on their way home after a day at Baylys Beach with other members of the Exclusive Brethren community near Dargaville.

The deaths happened after the ute they were travelling in crashed into a tree on Baylys Coast Rd about 6.45pm on June 6 this year.


There were eight passengers in the five-seater Mitsubishi Triton and Stewart, a businessman from Kaiwaka, was allegedly behind the wheel.

Stewart looked straight at Judge Murray Hunt during his brief appearance and was accompanied to and from court by just one person. There were no other family or friends in court.

He was remanded on bail to reappear in the same court on November 24 for a case review hearing.