The collision also claimed the life of the late DPM’s Close Protection Officer, First Constable Neil Maino.
Following a brief from the Divisional Commander Northern Assistant Commissioner Peter Guinness, Commissioner Manning said, “A Police investigation commenced immediately following the incident and on documenting the accident scene and interviewing the two survivors of the accident, police investigators were satisfied with the evidence on hand to lay charges on the driver of the other vehicle.
“Investigators were able to confirm that the accident involved two vehicles. The late DPM was the driver of one vehicle whilst a Mr Mathew Barnabas, a 37 year-old male from Ambai Village, Simbai in the Madang Province was the driver of the other.”
Barnabas, a coffee buyer who is married to a local woman from Mumeng, Bulolo District, is being transported into Lae tomorrow where he is likely to be charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing the deaths of the Deputy Prime Minister and his CPO. Barnabas will also be charged for dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm to the other two passengers.
Commissioner Manning said investigations pointed to allegations of a dangerous combination of speed and driving under the influence of liquor, allegedly by Barnabas, as evident from the bottles of alcohol recovered from his vehicle.
The Commissioner expressed his condolences to the families and described the incident as “very tragic”.
He went on to say that whilst the country is coming to terms with the loss of its Deputy Prime Minister, the RPNGC is also coming to terms with the loss of one of its own.
“The loss of late F/C Maino is very tragic. We witnessed his young wife and daughter as well as his parents mourning over his casket and it was a very emotional day on Sunday when their bodies were flown into Port Moresby.
“The RPNGC and the Police Legacy will ensure we continue to support F/C MAINO’s widow and daughter as much as we can during this time of bereavement and into the future,” said Commissioner Manning.
Manning renewed his call for calm during this time as a sign of respect for the memory of the late DPM and his CPO.
“Yumi mas soim pasin kastom na respect lo dispela taim. Hevi kamap pinis. Polis wokim wok painim aut pinis lo as blo dispela hevi. Na nau em taim lo sindaun wantaim na soim sore lo lida blo yumi. Luksave na strongim femili blo lida blo yumi, na blo polis man blo yumi tu,” Manning said in Tok Pisin. (We must show respect in this time of sorrow. Police have done their investigation. Now, we must give support to the families of the leader and the policeman.)
Commissioner Manning added he was aware of posts on social media regarding the circumstances leading up to and during the incident.
“I would like to caution those who are involved in this reckless behaviour to refrain from causing unnecessary stress and provoking violence during this time. Police have obtained sufficient evidence to support the charges that will be laid and that is what we will do.
“I had made an appeal to anyone with any information relating to the incident to come forward to the investigation team and provide that information officially, and that offer is still there. To date we have not received anything officially supporting the social media posts, except information on the vehicle accident itself,” concluded Manning.