News

Motorcyclist in Echuca hit and run jailed for seven years

By Ivy Jensen

A MOTORCYCLIST who almost killed a pedestrian, now left with severe brain injuries, in an Echuca hit and run has been jailed for seven years.

Joshua Abbott, 24, pleaded guilty in Bendigo County Court this week to negligent driving causing serious injury, failing to stop and render assistance, and driving while disqualified in relation to the March 10, 2019, accident.

Judge Sarah Dawes told the court the doctor’s opinion on Joel’s cognitive impairment was ‘‘severe enough to require formal support in all aspects of his life in the future’’.

‘‘Your conduct has caused the victim irreversible sadness and pain,’’ she said.

‘‘In his own words, the injuries you have caused Joel Beach have taken his life away from him.’’

Abbott was riding an unregistered black dirt bike on the walking track between Campaspe Esplanade and McKenzie St about 12.15am when he hit then 39-year-old Joel Beach.

The court heard Abbott was driving between 41-50km/h with no lights when Joel was hit.

Witnesses helped both men, but Abbott fled the scene on his motorbike without helping Joel.

The collision left the former concreter with severe traumatic brain injuries, multiple facial, neck, pelvic and elbow fractures and chest and abdominal injuries.

Joel spent nine months in hospital before being released just before Christmas.

A victim impact statement by Joel’s sister stated: ‘‘This crime has taken a grown man who was highly motivated and active. Now he is a little boy in a man’s body. He is likely to be dependent on others for all of his needs the rest of his life’’.

Judge Dawes told the court Abbott had been ‘‘evasive at the outset’’, but his guilty plea showed he was ‘‘belatedly remorseful’’ for the offending.

She said Abbott had reasonable prospects of rehabilitation, but his moral culpability was high and a substantial term of imprisonment was required.

‘‘The community expects those who commit serious driving offences to be punished,’’ she said.

‘‘This is a serious example of significant criminal offending.’’

Abbott was sentenced to a non-parole period of five years, with 321 days already served.
His licence was also disqualified for five years.

Daniel Norris, 34, was also sentenced after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact, committing an indictable offence while on bail, and driving while unlicensed.

The father-of-one, who has spent six months in custody, was sentenced to 16 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of 10 months.

Judge Dawes said CCTV footage showed Norris moving the dirt bike into his property about 90 minutes after the crash.

The footage showed Norris leaving his home later that day with the bike before returning an hour later without it.

Police found the bike partially burnt, painted green, and covered in shrubs in Lake Cooper on July 9, 2019.

The court heard Norris admitted to police he rode the bike away from the property the day after the collision.

According to ACM, Norris’ defence counsel Robert Timms told the court Norris was ‘‘acting out of loyalty for his friend’’.

‘‘The misguided loyalty shows a lack of regard for the consequences of your behaviour,’’ Judge Dawes said.

‘‘This is a serious example of your ongoing indifference to the criminal process.’’