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Rocky dad-to-be puts best mate in coma

IT was meant to be a fun afternoon for a bunch of friends but it went horribly wrong when an unlicensed drunk driver got behind the wheel and ended up seriously injuring his best mate.

Nathan Joseph McNaney faced the Rockhampton District Court on Thursday, May 11, where he pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle causing grievous bodily harm while intoxicated and two supplementary charges - driving unlicensed and drink driving while over the middle alcohol range.

Crown prosecutor, Tiffany Lawrence told the court how four friends in their 20s - Katherine Hornagold, Tegan Swain, Matthew Keith Fraser and McNaney - headed to Springer's Creek Lagoon on March 13, 2014 and spent the day swimming, fishing and drinking rum and cola cans.

After lunch, the tables took a turn with a car accident leaving one man with severe injuries that left him in a coma for four days.

But this incident was only one in a long history of unfortunate events for McNaney.

His defence barrister, Tom Polley explained how the now 29-year-old had started living on the streets at age 13 after his mother's partying lifestyle and revolving door of abusive boyfriends meant his home was rampant with alcohol and domestic violence.

He said it was 10 years before McNaney found a stable home, spending 10 years living on the streets, which lead to an extensive list of criminal behaviour "doing what he had to, to survive".

Mr Polley said in the lead up to this incident, McNaney had been in a relationship with Hornagold for five years and in that period, she'd had two miscarriages.

"This incident ... was a defining moment in his life," Mr Polley said.

He said his grandfather died about the same time and shortly after McNaney moved in with his mother and managed to rehabilitate himself, gaining full-time employment and not getting into trouble with the law.

Mr Polley said McNaney had been in a relationship with his current partner for 12 months. She has two children from a previous relationship and was expected to give birth in five months.

But, the series of unfortunate events didn't stop with the car accident in 2014.

The court heard McNaney was stabbed four times by his current partner's jealous ex boyfriend in October.

Now he will miss the birth of his first child after Judge Michael Burnett sentenced him to three and a half years jail, suspended after 12 months, for the grievous bodily harm charge and disqualified him from driving for four months.

At about 1pm on the day of the accident, McNaney had asked Hornagold to show him how to drive a manual car.

Near Springer's Creek Lagoon in Gracemere where an unlicensed driver driving a 4WD hit two trees and flung his best mate off the back of the vehicle as he clung to the tyre.
Near Springer's Creek Lagoon in Gracemere where an unlicensed driver driving a 4WD hit two trees and flung his best mate off the back of the vehicle as he clung to the tyre. Contributed

The pair jumped into Hornagold's Daihatsu and Fraser jumped on the back of the vehicle, clinging to it by grasping onto the spare tyre, mounted on the back door.

The court heard Fraser yelled out that he was on. Hornagold told McNaney that Fraser was on the back but it was not a good idea.

But McNaney started the car and took off down the dirt road. As he approached the first crest, Hornagold told him to slow down.

However, McNaney didn't slow down and lost control of the car, first swerving to the left and then over-correcting and swerving right.

The vehicle hit two trees before it came to a stop.

Fraser fell from the back of the vehicle and sustained significant injuries, including a collapsed lung, fractured right humorous, fractured right scapula, fractured sternum and two broken ribs.

As McNaney raced to his injured mate, crying and pleading with him to wake up, Hornagold stopped some quad bike riders who called for help.

Ms Lawrence said about 10pm that night, police took a blood sample from McNaney, who returned a BAC of 0.149.

Fraser was in a coma in intensive care for four days after metal rods were inserted and his lungs had to be emptied.

Mr Polley said McNaney later helped Fraser find employment and accommodation and the best mates lived together for six months.

"They've apologised to each other for their stupidity with this incident," he said.

Topics:  car accident drink driver grievous bodily harm rockhampton district court unlicensed driver


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