A man who seriously injured a mate who was riding in his ute tray when it rolled on a rural property has avoided a jail sentence.
Michael Jacob, 26, of Colac, was with a group of friends at a property in Allansford when he drove to check on yabby pots at the bottom of a steep embankment on January 16 last year.
He reversed his white 2020 Toyota Hilux utility with two people standing unrestrained in the tray down the embankment, which was parallel to a river.
As the rear right-hand side tyre started to climb the embankment, the ute lost balance and the people in the rear shouted at Jacob to stop.
But the ute rolled, landing on its roof and causing one of his female friends to become trapped underneath.
Witnesses called Triple-0 and tried to remove the victim from underneath the tray.
Jacob pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on March 2 to reckless conduct endangering serious injury.
The court heard the victim suffered multiple broken ribs and two punctured lungs.
She was airlifted to The Alfred hospital in a serious condition.
Jacob attended the Warrnambool police station by appointment on January 26, 2022.
During an interview, he told police he didn't realise the tyre had climbed the embankment, that he was shocked by the incident and showed extreme remorse.
A lawyer for Jacob said his client regretted his decision and he and the victim remained friends.
He said there was no malice, drugs or alcohol involved, which magistrate Gerard Lethbridge said made for a "difficult sentencing conundrum".
Mr Lethbridge said the Court of Appeal had made it "crystal clear that general deterrence was the most important consideration for reckless use of vehicles that either endanger or do cause serious injury".
He said that man would no doubt never re-offend again but the court made it clear it had to be marked with an appropriate sentence.
Mr Lethbridge said Jacob's offending was an example of a "simple and easily avoidable driver error that has caused devastation" to the victim.
He said it was inevitable the man would lose his licence and be convicted but the issue was whether he should be jailed.
But the magistrate said he'd considered the man's early guilty plea, lack of criminal history and good character.
Jacob was convicted and fined $7500.
His licence was disqualified for nine months.
The magistrate said he opted for a significant fine over a community correction order as unpaid work would be near impossible for the man who was now unlicensed and living in a rural area.
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