Driver who fled crash 'thought it was a roo'
DRIVER Jarrod Gavan Lawlor acted with "callous disregard" by failing to stop at a crash scene and give help to an injured motorbike rider.
The finding was made by Ipswich magistrate Virginia Sturgess after the court heard how Jarrod Lawlor continued to drive home that night after hitting the rider on a rural road.
But Lawlor said he was no monster and disagreed with the prosecutor that he tried to hide his damaged car from police.
Lawlor, 22, a concreter, maintained in a later police interview he believed he may have struck a kangaroo when driving home after a few hours spent at the pub with workmates.
He told police that his mother and father had driven the 500m to the scene and returned home to tell him that he'd struck a motorbike rider and an ambulance was on the scene and that there was nothing he could do.
But the next day, Lawlor stripped the damaged front panels, headlight, bumper, and bonnet from off his Holden Commodore.
Later saying he did this because he panicked.
He did not go to police and some days later police found his Commodore in a shed hidden under a blue tarpaulin, its front left wheel buckled and tyre flat, and with some panels taken off.
The crumpled bonnet was never found.
Motorbike rider David Pampling, 42, received spinal injuries after he was struck from behind on a gravel section of the road while riding slowly on his Italian model Aprilia RSV after a day's ride with a friend. He spent considerable time in Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Police prosecutor Bronson Ballard said Mr Pampling also suffered bruising to his brain and a fractured eye socket.
A part of the Commodore was left at the scene.
Lawlor's damaged car was located a week later and seized.
Jarrod Gavan Lawlor, 23, from Walloon, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention on Redhill Rd near Karrabin at 8pm on Friday June 29; and failing to comply with the duties of a driver involved in a crash and provide details.
Through his barrister Martin Longhurst, he unsuccessfully defended an aggravating element of a third charge that his failure to remain at the scene of a road incident and assist injured persons showed callous disregard.
On the magistrate's finding that Lawlor had shown callous disregard, Mr Longhurst said that his actions left Lawlor "ashamed, humiliated, devastated".
When interviewed, Lawlor told police he only drank five beers that night at the Commercial Hotel between 1.15pm and 7.30pm and "recalls hitting something".
His interview with Sergeant Adam Cooper was played to the court.
"There was nothing around me, just a dirt road. I assumed I hit a kangaroo," he said.
"Next morning I stripped the panels. I was in a state of panic I suppose. I just wanted to get rid of it. It was all banged up."
"I didn't meant to do it. It makes me feel sick, f---ing terrible."
Lawlor took the witness stand saying he felt an impact that night but kept driving.
And when told by his parents that he hit a rider "I went into shock. Started crying, threw up."
Cross examined by Mr Ballard as to why he took off the damaged panels, Lawlor said: "It was panic, the ill feeling still overwhelming to me".
"You covered the car with a tarpaulin so no one would notice it. And you went about your life," Mr Ballard said.
"I strongly disagree. I'm not a monster," Lawlor said.
Magistrate Sturgess convicted him off all three offences.
Ms Sturgess said she was satisfied police prosecution had proven to a high degree he had shown a callous disregard to the person he'd injured by failing to stop and assist at the scene.
"I don't accept that he genuinely thought he hit a kangaroo. He knew he hit something. He knew his car was damaged," she said.
"I find it unlikely that he remained unaware of the existence of the motor bike rider after he hit it, a large solid object."
Lawlor was sentenced to three months jail, immediately suspended for 12 months. He was fined $1200 and his licence disqualified four months.