Christopher Browne likely to avoid jail over the death of his son Lincoln in an ATV accident

Dad who killed his toddler while doing burnouts in their buggy will likely avoid jail as judge rules he has already faced ‘punishment enough’

  • Victorian father who killed his own son in an ATV accident likely won’t see jail 
  • The judge found Chris Browne already was facing the greatest punishment
  • Prosecutors called for Browne to receive a hefty sentence of community service 

A dad who killed his own son when his all-terrain buggy rolled while doing burnouts will likely avoid a prison sentence – as prosecutors argue for him to be punished with ‘significant’ community service.

Christopher Browne, 33, had his two-year-old son Lincoln on his lap and his adult sister in the passenger seat while driving the buggy on Christmas Day in 2020 at his rural property in Barnawartha North, near the NSW-Victorian border.

Browne attempted one last doughnut in the ATV, when his sudden turn caused the vehicle to roll.

Lincoln was thrown from the carriage and then crushed by the ATV’s roll bars, a mechanism that is supposed to stop the vehicle from crushing its passengers.

The toddler was freed by witnesses, who performed CPR but were unable to revive him, with Lincoln dying soon after from his injuries. 

No one in the buggy was wearing seatbelts, and it was overloaded with three passengers – the father and son, and Browne’s sister – instead of two. 

Mourning his little boy, the then-31-year-old, was charged over the death.

He now looks set to avoid a prison sentence for his dangerous actions, but could be handed a hefty amount of community service to complete over several years.

Two-year-old 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

Two-year-old 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

Judge Michael Cahill found his moral culpability for the incident was high and the offence was in the mid-range in terms of the gravity of offending, but he said the effects of Lincoln’s death were punishment enough for Browne.

Prosecutors called for jail time for Browne, who has another child.

In a similar case mentioned in court, another father was sentenced to more than three years behind bars and an appeal on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive was refused.

But Judge Cahill told prosecutors on Thursday he would have Browne assessed for an order, with a plan to place him on one instead of sending him to jail.

Police pictured at the scene on the private property on Moss Road, Barnawartha North on Christmas Day, 2020

Police pictured at the scene on the private property on Moss Road, Barnawartha North on Christmas Day, 2020 

‘He has suffered severe symptoms of PTSD as a consequence of him having caused the death of his son,’ the judge said.

His lawyers argued that would make prison substantially more onerous.

Browne, who appeared by video link from court in Wodonga, sometimes appeared overwhelmed, the judge noted.

‘At times, the only thing that keeps him going is his responsibility to take care of his wife and their younger child,’ Judge Cahill said.

But he acknowledged serious aggravating features in the offending, including overriding the seatbelt safety mechanisms and exceeding the passenger limit.

‘I have formed the view in this case that a community correction order is the appropriate sentence for Mr Browne,’ Judge Cahill said, according to the Herald Sun

‘Living with the loss of his child is punishment more than any court could impose.’

Browne’s lawyer Tom Danos said the self-employed builder was still managing to run his own business, but found it a struggle.

He also helps his wife run a wedding reception business at their property and operates a cabinet-making business in Wodonga, while assisting his brother-in-law with computer work for his plumbing business.

Imprisonment would have consequence for those businesses and their employees, he said.

Browne has also contributed to the local soccer club, both financially and as a coach for an under 12s team, Mr Danos said, highlighting his client’s contributions to his community.

He sold the buggy and has no intention of replacing it.

Prosecutor Erin Ramsay said it was unusual for a case with high moral culpability to result in a corrections order and there should be a significant period of unpaid community work.

Browne will be sentenced on August 11.

Source

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