Christopher Browne, a Melbourne judge who accidently killed his kid while doing donuts on a quadbike, will not serve time in prison. On Christmas Day 2020, Browne was riding the bike near the NSW border on his Barnawartha North farm with his two-year-old son Lincoln.
Living with the death of a child “is a punishment more than any court can impose,” Victorian County Court Judge Michael Cahill stated in his ruling. He stated that Christopher Browne, 32, will be evaluated for a community corrections order instead.
Lincoln Browne, Browne’s two-year-old son, was crushed to death when the buggy overturned during a small family brunch, and Browne pleaded guilty to the charge of hazardous driving causing death. The father admitted to having up to three drinks during the Christmas meal, but testing showed he was sober when the crash happened.
Browne was driving the buggy while carrying his son in his lap and using his right arm, according to court filings. He had planned to drive everyone around.
The documents state that after completing many doughnuts in a paddock next to the family home, Browne completed his final one when the buggy’s wheels dipped into the grass, causing it to roll.
When the buggy crashed to the ground, Lincoln was “right on top,” according to Browne’s brother-in-law Michael Hart. The roll bars on the ATV, a safety feature meant to prevent the vehicle from crushing its passengers, instead threw Lincoln from the carriage and crushed him. When Browne made his final doughnut try in the ATV, the vehicle rolled due to his abrupt turn.
Lincoln’s mother Stacey Browne and another relative attempted CPR on their son there and then. During the hearing, they were both seated next to their husbands.
Reports from a psychologist and a general practitioner both showed how negatively the incident had affected the 32-year-old. According to Cahill, both evaluations revealed that Browne had “serious” PTSD symptoms as a result of the incident. “Sometimes, the duty of his wife and (remaining) child is the only thing that keeps him going,” Browne’s attorney Tom Danos told the court.
Danos asserted that the couple would experience “severe consequences” and the staff would “suffer” if Browne were unable to continue running the family business.
Michael Cahill, the judge, declared that Browne wouldn’t be imprisoned.
The judge stated, “I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Browne should get a community correction order in the totality of the circumstances in this case.” Living with the loss of his child is a sentence that no court could ever impose, according to the author.
Judge Cahill understood that Browne was deeply sorry for what had happened and that going to jail would only worsen his already precarious mental state. His eligibility for a community corrections order will now be determined, which prosecutors described as “very rare” in this particular case.
Given that the order is truly being imposed in place of what would otherwise be incarceration, prosecutor Erin Ramsay suggested that it should come with a large amount of unpaid community service.