A TAMWORTH man has been cleared of dangerous driving causing the death of a young boy, after prosecutors dropped the charge against him.
But the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, now faces a back-up charge of negligent driving causing death.
Police allege he was behind the wheel of a ute that crashed, killing a young boy in the backseat in late-2018 at Moonbi, near Tamworth.
Much of the detail surrounding the case cannot be reported for legal reasons.
He has maintained his innocence since he was committed for trial in court last year.
The accused did not appear in Tamworth Local Court on Wednesday morning when Legal Aid solicitor Wendy McAuliffe said the case had been remitted back to the local court for hearing.
"It went to the district court and was listed for trial and is now back," she told the court.
Ms McAuliffe said the dangerous driving charge was listed for trial in the district court "which was no billed, and is now listed for negligent driving".
"Gosh that has had a history, hasn't it," Magistrate Julie Soars said, examining the court papers.
Solicitor for the DPP Max Dixon confirmed the negligent driving occasioning death charge would proceed and "should be listed for a hearing in Your Honour's court".
The court was told several witnesses would be called.
"Our best estimate is ... more than one day, but no longer than two days," Ms McAuliffe said, confirming the Crown and defence would examine the list of witnesses needed and "narrow the issues" down to shorten the hearing.
Ms Soars disqualified herself from hearing the matter for legal reasons, but listed it for a special fixture across two days in front of another magistrate in July.
"It is a serious charge, and it should be given serious treatment," she told the court.
The man was allegedly behind the wheel of a ute travelling south on the New England Highway near Moonbi when the fatal crash occurred in late-2018.
The ute left the road and crashed on the afternoon of December 16, and claimed the life of the young boy, who was seated in the back of the ute.
The driver was taken to hospital and underwent mandatory testing. After a lengthy investigation, police from the Oxley Crash Investigation Unit in Tamworth charged the driver in May 2019.
The man was never placed on bail for the allegations but first appeared in court to answer two charges in June 2019, a month after he was charged.
The case was then scheduled for trial in February this year in Tamworth District Court, after the accused pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing last June to dangerous driving occasioning death by driving in a manner dangerous.
At the time, the judge fixed the case for a five-day trial in front of a jury.