A father whose toddler died in an ATV rollover on Christmas Day in 2020 has been ordered to do community work in punishment for his part in the boy’s death.
Lincoln Browne was thrown from the buggy and crushed after his father did a doughnut in the paddock of their home in Victoria’s northeast during a family brunch.
Christopher Browne was supported in court on Thursday by his wife, who County Court Judge Michael Cahill said had remained staunchly loyal.
A psychologist who has treated Browne said the only thing keeping the now 33-year-old going is his sense of responsibility to look after his wife and their younger child.
The couple had stillborn twin daughters before Lincoln’s birth.
Browne’s doctor implored the court to apply compassion, saying he had already suffered enough.
Lincoln Browne was killed after falling from an ATV on a Barnawartha North property near the Victoria-New South Wales border on Christmas Day 2020
Christopher Browne (pictured) was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order with 250 hours of unpaid community work
The family had gathered at Browne’s Barnawartha North home for a Christmas brunch when he offered rides on his new off-road buggy.
With two-year-old Lincoln on his lap and his sister beside him, Browne did several doughnuts, sped up and down the driveway and returned to the paddock for a final burnout when the all buggy tipped.
He and his wife rushed to Lincoln’s side and there were attempts to revive him, but the little boy could not be saved.
Judge Cahill said Browne’s offending was objectively serious – both he and his son were unrestrained.
By sitting on top of the clipped-in seatbelt, Browne had overridden a safety interlock – which would have limited the speed to 25km/h.
The buggy was only supposed to have two people on board, not three.
Browne told police later that he became complacent about safety and had been trying to scare his sister.
Police pictured at the scene on the private property on Moss Road, Barnawartha North on Christmas Day, 2020
He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and reckless conduct endangering serious injury.
Browne has become withdrawn since the crash and will carry the demons of the accident for life, his father-in-law said.
A friend described him as a shadow of his former self.
Judge Cahill said ordinarily a prison sentence would follow a serious offence with such tragic consequences.
But a three-year community corrections order with 250 hours of unpaid community work would satisfy the punitive and rehabilitative requirements of sentencing, the judge said.
Browne will also be disqualified from driving for 18 months.
Prosecutors had called for a prison sentence.
In a similar case another father was sentenced to more than three years behind bars and an appeal on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive was refused, they argued.