Driver avoids jail over trampoline death
THE family of a much-loved grandmother, who died after a trampoline fell of the back off a trailer and crashed through her windscreen, has asked a court to show the driver mercy.
Herleen Koen, 63, was driving behind her daughter along Mundoolun Connection Road on August 23 last year when pieces of the trampoline flew through her windscreen causing her to veer through a paddock and into a tree at Tamborine.
Ms Koen sustained critical head injuries and was flown to Gold Coast University.
She died two weeks later after her family made the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support.
The driver, Benjamin Joseph Hogan, 40, appeared in Brisbane Supreme Court this morning where he pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of motor vehicle causing death.
The court was told that on the morning of the accident, the Canungra father had picked up the trampoline and had used five ropes and straps to tie the 6m-high load down.
Defence barrister Chris Wilson said Hogan had even asked his partner to follow him and the pair had stopped to put two more straps on the trailer shortly before the accident.
Tragically, this proved to be a fatal error.
“It actually disintegrated because it had been tied too securely down,” Mr Wilson said.
Prosecutor Noel Needham said while Hogan had tried to secure the trampoline, the dangerous height of the equipment meant that “any effort to strap it down was really going to be futile.”
The court was told that in the same moment that the trampoline broke apart, a convoy of four cars was driving in the opposite direction.
Some of the debris hit the car being driven by Ms Koen’s daughter.
This caused her minor head injuries, but she managed to pull over safely.
In the aftermath of the accident, Hogan stayed with the family and kept in close contact with them.
Mr Needham read two letters written by Ms Koen’s children who spoke about the hole their mother’s death had left in their family.
Giselle Koen finished her letter by saying: “I write this not angry, just with a broken heart. This has been a huge loss for our small family.”
Ms Koen’s son asked the court for “leniency” when determining Hogan’s sentence saying he did not want another family to suffer like they had.
Justice David Boddice said Ms Koen would have been “very proud of the generosity of spirit shown by her family”.
He said that Hogan’s remorse was genuine and his driving did not involve “deliberate recklessness”.
“The danger arose as a consequence out of the nature of the load and the inadequacy of what were genuine attempts to secure it,” he said.
“Unsurprisingly you have been devastated by the consequences of your actions. Your remorse is genuine, it has been expressed from the outset.”
Hogan was sentenced to two years’ jail with immediate parole.
He will be disqualified from driving for 12 months.
A conviction was recorded.
Originally published as Driver avoids jail over trampoline death