Two men jailed for hit-and-runs in space of two days

IT WAS a case of deja vu for Rockhampton judge Ian Dearden who sentenced two young men on two separate hit-and-run charges in the space of two days.

Only 24 hours after sentencing a 21-year-old Rockhampton man in Rockhampton District Court to six years in prison for running down and killing a 17-year-old, Judge Dearden sentenced a 26-year-old to four years in prison for driving into two men with his Nissan Patrol, an action which he said sent shivers down his spine.

Jayden Morris Leahy, who was supported by his mother, partner and four-month-old daughter, sobbed behind custody glass as Judge Dearden sentenced him on a plea of guilty for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm and leaving the scene after an incident at Yeppoon in July 2013.

Crown Prosecutor Alexandra Baker told the court Leahy, who was disqualified from driving and subjected to a good behaviour bond at the time of the offence, drove his car into two men in the driveway of a unit complex at Yeppoon.

The court heard Leahy had been fishing with two friends, both of whom he was associated with through drugs, and his step-brother and drinking throughout the day but became agitated when he returned to friend Christopher Cash's unit and was told two other men were invited to the unit on the same afternoon.

Leahy was associated with one of the men through a drug ring but was not known to the other.

Leahy began swinging a machete at Cash and chased him inside the unit before getting behind the wheel of his vehicle and speeding off with his step-brother in the passenger seat.

Leahy returned to the unit, sped up the driveway with wheels screeching, and swerved the vehicle towards 22-year-old Trent Horton and 33-year-old Cameron Riley, who was not known to Leahy. Both men were struck before Leahy roared off from the scene.

Leahy sent a threatening text message to Cash following the incident which read, "I don't f**k around, you're next".

He was arrested at his home on July 22, 2013, nine days after the hit-and-run.

Crown Prosecutor Baker said Riley suffered grievous bodily harm in the incident with lacerations to his face, bruising of his chest, a collapsed lung and a fracture of his right femur, spending       two weeks in intensive care and undergoing two operations including placing a medical nail in his femur.

Horton's tibia was smashed into pieces and his hip badly bruised.

Neither complainant submitted a victim impact statement.

Crown Prosecutor Baker said Leahy "deliberately drove into people with a powerful car in an enclosed space".

"He shouldn't have been behind the wheel at all, essentially using his car as a weapon," she said.

"This offence is typically committed by hot-headed young men who choose to get behind the wheel," she said.

Leahy's defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand said Leahy was concerned about being imprisoned in Capricorn Correctional Centre because Cash, Horton and Horton's older brother were housed at the prison.

"He is terribly concerned about vigilante justice," he said.

Judge Dearden said the sentence was "the most difficult" he did as a sentencing judge.

"I'm not going to beat around the bush," Judge Dearden said.

"It is appalling and despicable what you did and a car with a bull bar is an extraordinarily dangerous weapon to be used on a human.

"It sends shivers down my spine."

Leahy apologised to the court and said he regretted his actions "every day".

"I'm sorry, I really want every opportunity to be with my girl and raise her and be there with her," he said.

"I'll take anything if I can get back to my baby and be the dad I never f*****g had.

"Sorry for swearing Your Honour."

Leahy was previously sentenced on one count of threatening violence and two counts of assaulting or obstructing a police officer in Yeppoon Magistrates Court for offences on the same day, for which he served four months of a 12-month prison sentence.

Leahy will serve 14 months of the four-year sentence behind bars, with the remainder suspended after December 2016.

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