Matthew Bee in action as a bull rider. Photo: Adam Hourigan
Matthew Bee in action as a bull rider. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Rodeo ute prank leaves victim with shocking injuries

A RODEO bull rider has been jailed after his drunken skylarking behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive went horribly wrong.

Ipswich District Court on Tuesday heard Mathew Bee had been drinking at a Condamine rodeo event when he hooked a Toyota HiLux up to another ute and began towing it in a circle.

The court heard Bee did not realise the 18-year-old male victim was clinging to the side of his ute until he fell off and was run over, causing life-threatening head injuries.

Bee immediately thought he had hit someone sleeping in a swag, and the court heard Bee was assaulted afterwards.

Mathew James Bee, 29, who has lived in Tarome and Weipa, pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected and causing grievous bodily harm to Lachlan Oakes, 18, at the Condamine sports ground on September 10, 2017; and unlawful use of a motor vehicle without consent of its owner.

Crown prosecutor James Bishop said Bee was 26 at the time and had six pages of traffic history, including 22 speeding offences, and one where he drove a vehicle with a passenger in an open ute tray.

Mr Bishop said Bee had been drinking around a campfire late at night with other friends when he hooked the HiLux to another ute and began dragging it while reversing.

“Mr Oakes attached himself to the outside standing on the side rail. A passenger heard him (Oakes) say whoa, whoa, and he told him to pull up,” Mr Bishop said.

“He did spin both utes in a three-quarter rotation. Mr Oakes lost his grip and fell to the ground and he (Bee) has driven over him.”

Mr Bishop said Bee attempted to assist other people with the injured man but was dragged away by bystanders.

He left the scene but returned to speak to police at 11.50am that morning.

“He told police he’d been drinking but wasn’t intoxicated when driving,” Mr Bishop said.

When finally breath-tested at 2.15pm, Bee recorded an alcohol reading of 0.061, Mr Bishop saying experts evaluated his alcohol level as likely between 0.165 and 0.173 at the time of the accident. This meant his ability to drive had been impaired.

Mr Oakes suffered serious head injuries including a skull fracture, multiple facial fractures and rib fractures.

He was airlifted to hospital in Brisbane and underwent surgery with a plate also attached to his jaw.

A victim impact statement revealed ongoing physical and emotional issues.

Mr Bishop said that if not for medical intervention he would likely have died.

Defence barrister Tony Kimmins said Bee was not aware the victim was clinging to the ute.

“It was stupid behaviour embarked upon after drinking at a rodeo, almost childish. Mr Bee did not set out to deliberately hurt anyone,” Mr Kimmins said.

“He tried to assist but was basically grabbed. He indicated he was flogged, he was assaulted.

“Since this has happened he has carried enormous guilt as he injured a friend. He and his friend are no longer in contact.”

Mr Kimmins said Bee had since brought a rural property on The Atherton Tablelands where he hopes to assist young bull riders.

Judge Orazio Rinaudo noted the impact the accident has had on Mr Oakes.

He accepted Bee was genuinely remorseful, and that he posted on Facebook soon after the accident: “Hi buddy I hope you are well. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I still don’t know what happened. I can’t be anymore sorry for what happened. Thankful for what looked over us Saturday night to keep you here mate’.”

Judge Rinaudo said it was not a deliberate act and Bee did not set out to harm anyone but it was high risk driving aggravated by excessive alcohol.

He said it was relevant that in the three years since the accident Bee had realised the error of his ways.

“All too often we see these types of events occur. A sentence must reflect public concern that young people act this way and cause injuries to themselves and others,” Judge Rinaudo said.

Bee was convicted and sentenced to a 2 ½ year jail term and ordered to serve three months, with the remainder to be suspended for three years.

Bee was disqualified from driving for 12 months.

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