Woman runs over mate who fell off bull bar
A DRUNKEN joy ride-like moment sitting on the bullbar of a woman's car ended up with a man being run over and a young woman facing the prospect of jail.
The injured man, who supported the driver in court last week, didn't want his friend charged and did not provide the driver's details to the police when they started asking questions following his knee surgery at Rockhampton Hospital.
Katie Joanna Spry, 25, pleaded guilty on December 11 in Rockhampton District Court to one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.
The maximum penalty in Queensland for this charge is 10 years' jail.
Spry, who works at the Stockman's Hall of Fame, picked up her friend and another passenger, both who had been drinking alcohol, on December 4 last year at Longreach.
She was driving them in her grey Toyota Hilux dual cab ute to the Town Common (a recreational space) when she pulled over for her mate to urinate.
Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence said the victim, Owen O'Brien, walked back to the ute, and tried to hop in the tray.
She said Spry told Mr O'Brien to get out of the tray.
He did. But instead of getting inside the ute, he got on the middle of the bull bar, facing forwards and leaning backwards.
Spry repeatedly told Mr O'Brien to get off the bullbar, but he didn't listen.
Judge Jeff Clarke said Mr O'Brien admitted in his letter to the court that he was difficult to deal with when he consumed alcohol and he was "quite headstrong".
The court heard Spry told police: "I was just over it. I just wanted to get to town … so I took him on a little drive".
Spry drove about 20 metres, at 40-60kmh, while Mr O'Brien sat on the bull bar.
He came off after she hit a bump, running over him.
She drove forward enough to ensure Mr O'Brien wasn't pinned under the ute.
Spry the drove close enough to Mr O'Brien so it would be easier to get him in the ute, with the assistance of the other passenger.
Mr O'Brien had a fracture of the lateral femoral condyle - an injury for which he had surgery to avoid permanent injury.
Spry arrived at Longreach Hospital with Mr O'Brien at 10.55 that night.
Ms Lawrence said Spry made "full and frank admissions" to police, took them to the scene of the incident and gave them access to her vehicle to check for defects.
She said Mr O'Brien told police he did not want the driver charged and did not want her to go to prison.
Ms Lawrence said Mr O'Brien took responsibility for getting on the bull bar.
She said the other passenger did provide a statement.
Ms Lawrence said the offending was out of character for Spry, who showed immediate and continued remorse.
Defence barrister Martin Longhurst said his client ended up driving the few metres just to appease Mr O'Brien.
He said Spry worked full-time at the Stockman's Hall of Fame looking after finances, payroll and other work.
Mr Longhurst said Spry grew up in Toowoomba and moved to Longreach where she got a certificate IV at the agriculture college.
He said she had already purchased her own home.
Judge Clarke said references tendered to court were "glowing" and showed Spry had a "good and generous nature".
He said she helped people living with disabilities and helped animals in RSPCA care.
Judge Clarke said Spry visited Mr O'Brien in hospital after the incident.
"What happened here was a series of unfortunate events," he said.
Mr Longhurst said his instructing solicitor made submissions to police prosecution to have the charge downgraded, which was refused, and then made a submission to Crown prosecution to bring the matter on faster so everyone could "get on with their lives".
Judge Clarke said this case stood out against others that had been before the courts and "it was a very unusual case".
He ordered Spry to complete 120 hours of community service in 12 months, disqualified her from driving for 12 months and no conviction was recorded.