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Alun Garth McLachlan (50) is charged with failing to stop and ascertain injury following the death of Rikki McCall on May 8.
Counsel Len Andersen QC entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf this morning and elected judge-alone trial.
The 33-year-old victim was found on the road near Owaka in the early hours of the morning.
His father, Robin McCall, described his son as a "top, top guy".
The victim was a "great husband and father" who loved being involved in his community, he said.
He was a local rugby player and coach, and also played bagpipes for the Balclutha Pipe Band.
Mr McCall said his son appeared to have been making the a short walk from a neighbouring property to his home in Owaka Valley Rd when he died.
"He had about 100m to walk, no corners, and someone's knocked him down in that time," he said.
McLachlan will be back in court in August.
His bail conditions bar him from consuming alcohol or going within 10km of Owaka township.