Drink driver's 1.5 day bender before horror Rocky crash
A REPEAT offender had been drinking for one and a half days at a pub in Bouldercombe when he decided to drive himself and a mate home to Mt Morgan.
That decision on October 11, 2014, changed the lives of three men forever.
Ronald Gordon Cockley, 50, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court on Friday to one count of aggravated dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and one count of drink driving.
The court heard as Cockley drove his white 2007 Mitsubishi Triton up Razorback Rd to Mt Morgan and was witnessed weaving all over the road, along with crossing double white lines.
The witness, scared of this dangerous driving, dropped back to a safer distance.
The court heard the witness saw Cockley's vehicle fail to negotiate a blind corner and drive straight at a 1994 Ford Falcon driven by Gracemere man Leslie Kuhl, who was returning home from visiting his mother.
Cockley's car travelled onto the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with Kuhl's car.
"The rear of both vehicles bounced up into the air," Crown Prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence said.
Both vehicles were extensively damaged and were stuck together.
Both drivers and Cockley's passenger and drinking buddy, Leonard Tobin, were unconscious, sustained severe injuries, and were transported to Rockhampton Hospital and on to Brisbane the following day.
Ms Lawrence said the bar staff at the Royal Hotel in Bouldercombe told police Cockley and Mr Tobin had been drinking at the venue on October 10 from 11am to 2am, stayed overnight and resumed drinking at 10.30am on October 11 - the day of the crash.
A staff member went to organise a lift for the pair back to Mt Morgan when they went to leave the hotel, but when the staff member returned with the driver, the pair had already left.
Cockley's BAC levels three hours after the crash were 0.18 - which Judge Michael Burnett surmised meant his BAC was about 0.2 at the time of the crash.
Mr Kuhl, 63 years old at the time of the crash, sustained fractures to his T6, clavicle and rib bones and his ribs had broken away from his chest wall. He also sustained a large laceration to his leg and an injured finger.
The court heard he had to learn to walk and write again. He also lost his house while in hospital recovering.
He has been unable to work or take pleasure in social activities he had previously enjoyed, such as shooting.
Mr Tobin, 41 years old at the time of the crash, sustained multiple lacerations to the face, his right and left lungs collapsed with a catheter needing to be inserted in his right lung to reinflate it. He had about five ribs broken on his right side.
He also sustained a significant laceration to his left elbow and another laceration below his shoulder. Mr Tobin also sustained a small fracture on his femur and his spine.
He has been left with reduced function of his arm and knee.
Defence Barrister Maree Willey said Cockley's own injuries have left him unable to work in trades he had been previously employed.
Cockely's injuries included a fractured C2 vertebrae, fractured hip, bilateral rib fractures, collapsed lung, rib cage detached from the chest wall, adrenal haemorrhage, he lost his front teeth and he sustained an injury to his knee for which he needs further surgery.
Ms Lawrence said the serious features of the crash did not deter Cockley, who has been caught drink driving four times prior and had his license suspended or disqualified nine times, as he was caught speeding 1.5 months after the crash.
Judge Burnett sentenced Cockley to four and half years' jail to be suspended after 16 months and operational for five years. He did not spend any time in custody prior to sentencing.