'Cowardly' angry dad caused wife to lose control of car
A MAD dad who yanked the handbrake on while arguing with his wife as she drove caused her to lose control of the car - which broadsided on to the wrong side of the road.
Despite the car blocking the oncoming traffic lane on Tantitha Rd at North Bundaberg, Joshua Matt grabbed and snapped the ignition key and ran off leaving his wife and kids stranded.
Matt, 31, a father of six was sentenced to a jail term by court magistrate Belinda Merrin, who said he had acted cowardly.
Matt pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to contravening a domestic violence order (aggravated offence) and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle (domestic violence offence) on Saturday, May 27.
Prosecutor Senior Constable Tina Bland said the incident happened at 4pm when the couple with two children on board were driving west in a 100km zone at Gooburrum.
Matt, in the front passenger seat, reached down violently and pulled on the brake, causing the wheels to lock up and the car to skid uncontrollably sideways across the centre lines.
The car ended across the centre line - half on the oncoming traffic lane and half on the verge.
After the sudden stop Matt broke off the ignition transponder key and ran off.
Snr Cnst Bland said a passing driver helped Matt's wife push the car off the road and out of danger.
"What happened is quite serious. Mr Matt has opened himself up to a sentence with a jail term," she said.
A Corrective Services officer told the court Matt was doing a domestic violence perpetrators program, and attending alcohol and anger management counselling.
Defence lawyer Rian Dwyer said Matt was very remorseful and fully aware he jeopardised the lives of his wife, children and other road users.
He said the couple had been married eight years and eight children had been living in the family home at the time.
Mr Dwyer said Matt's wife suffered multiple sclerosis that was slowly getting worse.
He said Matt's wife had been distracted while driving and not seen a car ahead slowing, so he "yanked, pulled on the handbrake ... it was not malicious."
"Why did he snap off the key leaving them stranded?" Ms Merrin inquired.
Mr Dwyer said panic, saying the incident was out of character.
"While there was extreme potential for injuries there was no injury, perhaps by good luck," he said.
Mr Dwyer said Matt had been using cannabis and methylamphetamine at the beginning of the year when the relationship deteriorated but drugs are now not an issue.
Mr Dwyer said Matt also had eight months remaining on an existing probation order.
Ms Merrin accepted Matt had been going through a dark period at the time but had subjected his family to serious acts of domestic violence that attracted police attention.
She said the court had previously given him an opportunity to do probation and address personal issues.
"I don't accept your instructions as to why you pulled on the handbrake. What you did immediately afterward is inconsistent," Ms Merrin said.
"Rather than assist them you acted like a coward."
After consideration of personal circumstances, that he had ceased drug use and engaged in probation and counselling, She sentenced Matt to 13 months jail, wholly suspended for two years. He was disqualified from driving for six months.