A New Zealand man accused of pushing a driver in front of an oncoming garbage truck during a roadside argument will now stand trial for manslaughter.
Tamate Henry Heke allegedly caused the death of Shane Merrigan, 50, in a road rage scuffle on Brisbane's busy Gateway Motorway on December 1 last year, news.com.au reported.
Heke appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today and was ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court for manslaughter and unlawful striking causing death.
He was originally charged with murder but that was last month dropped by the Department of Public Prosecution for the lesser offences.
The 37-year-old told police he had been tailgated by Merrigan, who also made rude gestures and mirrored his lane changes, according to the Courier Mail at the time.
He claimed Merrigan then pulled over in front of him and the two men got out of their cars and a physical confrontation started.
Heke told police Merrigan threw the first punch and when he hit him back the older man fell onto the road and was hit by the truck.
A court heard several witnesses had conflicting statements, which led to the charge being downgraded.
"While there might be a strong case on manslaughter, there may not be a strong case of murder," Justice Roslyn Atkinson said in December.
Heke was due to return to New Zealand to get married the week after the incident and his fiancée and other family members flew to Brisbane to support him.
Defence lawyer Adam Magill told reporters the 36-year-old's fiancée and other family members had flown to Brisbane to support Heke, who is expected to spend Christmas and New Year behind bars.
"He's devastated. He's never really been in trouble with the police before so it's devastating for him and his family," Defence lawyer Adam Magill said in December.
"They're devastated, it's going to be a long road."