Tamarama: Zisi Kokotatsios charged with killing Mitch East in hit-and-run

A rideshare driver has been granted bail after he was charged with killing a young lawyer in a horrific alleged hit-and-run incident.

Zisi Kokotatsios, 63, appeared in Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday to make an application for bail after spending the night in custody on remand.

Police allege he was illegally using his phone around 4am on March 17 while driving along Fletcher St in Tamarama on his way to pick up a rideshare customer.

On Saturday, the police prosecutor said surveillance footage had captured the moment Mr Kokotatsios allegedly struck Mitch East and his car was “lifted up”.

“An audible crash sound was captured on CCTV in the vicinity of the scene and the vehicle was seen to slow significantly before fleeing,” he said.

“There can be no doubt the driver of the vehicle knew he had struck something.”

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, Mr East was pronounced dead at the scene.

The court heard the 28-year-old lawyer had been “lying down on the street” at the moment of impact.

Police allege Mr Kokotatsios had been distracted by his phone while driving dangerously, so he didn’t see Mr East on the road.

“The accused did the wrong thing and, because of that, someone has died,” the police prosecutor said.

Police allege the rideshare driver knew he had been involved in an impact which caused serious injury or death, but he failed to stop and assist Mr East.

“If he had stopped and had a look, he would have seen a person lying there dying,” the sergeant said.

He noted the 63-year-old had been charged with using his mobile phone while driving in December last year, which he claimed showed a pattern of disregard for road safety rules.

However, Mr Kokotatsios’ lawyer Mohamad Sakr argued police “lack substantial evidence” to prove his client was illegally using his mobile phone, which was mounted in a dash holster.

He rejected the prosecutor’s claim that the case against his client was “compelling”, arguing there were a number of “issues” and “definite concerns” with the prosecution’s case.

“It’s accepted Mr Kokotatsios hit something,” he said.

“We don’t know … that it was in fact my client that killed this young man.”

Mr Sakr questioned whether the police had viable evidence about whether Mr Kokotatsios’ car was the one that “did in fact cause death”.

He said the alleged victim had put himself at risk by lying on the ground, and claimed his client would have stopped to render aid if he knew he had hit a person.

The court heard the rideshare driver relies on glasses sometimes when driving.

Magistrate Leslie Brennan agreed there were “difficulties” with the prosecution’s case related to the cause of Mr East’s death and “what (Mr Kokotatsios) was doing when he was driving”.

“That’s all for another day,” he said.

He granted the rideshare driver bail under strict conditions, which require him to report to police once a week and not to approach any point of international departure.

The 63-year-old will return to court in May over charges of failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing death, dangerous driving occasioning death – drive manner dangerous, negligent driving (occasioning death) and driver use mobile phone when not permitted.

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