A father responsible for the death of his toddler is facing potential jail time after prosecutors challenged his three-year community work sentence.
Christopher Browne avoided a harsher sentence after accepting responsibility for the death of two-year-old Lincoln, who died in a buggy crash.
Browne, 33, was driving the buggy on Christmas Day when he suddenly lost control while performing a donut, which led the vehicle to overturn at Barnawartha North, Australia.
Lincoln had no restraints nor a helmet while sitting on his father’s knee at the time of the crash. Ultimately, his neck was crushed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
In August, Browne avoided time in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and conduct endangering persons. He was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order and 250 hours of unpaid community work.
In Victoria’s Court of Appeal in Melbourne, Chief Crown Prosecutor Brendan Kissane argued that Browne should have been handed a prison sentence.
According to Kissane, the grieving father has moral culpability in the death of his son and there was a “serious degree of irresponsible behavior” involved.
“We’re dealing with offending that was deliberate and offending that, we say, was both objectively serious and at the very least mid-range,” he said, per ABC.net.au.
“The fact that the offender was engaged with burnouts and the fact that it was an inherently dangerous piece of equipment that’s well known for causing incidents of this nature.
A father is locked in a second fight for his freedom over a tragedy that claimed the life of his son. Christopher Browne was initially spared jail after the two-year-old was killed in a joyride on a family farm, but his freedom is on the line again. https://t.co/hs5v3F5j4O pic.twitter.com/ZJBiUbrYiU
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) January 24, 2023
“It brings us no joy to come to this court and say the sentencing that was imposed on the father was inadequate,” he added. “This is a set of circumstances where your honour should have imposed a sentence of imprisonment.”
It was stated in court that similar offenses had resulted in three of more years behind bars for individual responsible.
Browne’s legal team acknowledged the leniency of the sentence but submitted that the court exercise residual discretion.
“Not only is [Browne] someone who has shown overwhelming remorse but also someone who from the first opportunity has taken direct responsibility,” lawyer Jason Gullaci said.
“There has been a real detrimental effect of this offending on his mental health. Imprisonment would then weigh more heavily on him and there is a risk of adverse effects on his mental health.”
Browne was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the tragic accident. When deciding on a sentence for Browne, county court judge Michael Cahill took into account his PTSD. The court was also told that Browne and his wife have another child on the way. Gullaci argued against jail time for Browne for this reason.
Reflecting on Browne’s mental health in the wake of the incident, the prosecutor argued: “It’s trite to say any parent who is involved in the death of their child would be grief-stricken, would be suffering, or would suffer from stress and anxiety, and the distinction, if there is one, is not such to warrant the distinction in sentence.”
During the appeal hearing, Justice Terry Forrest said Browne was “a good man”.
“He’s a man of some accomplishment and has done well with every other aspect of his life,” he said.
Since he was sentenced, Browne has carried out more than 100 hours of his court-ordered community work.
It will be revealed on a later date whether the prosecutor’s pursuit of a prison sentence for the defendant has been successful.