By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS
“I lost something that means a lot to me in life and it really f***in hurt!”
So lamented a hoon on his Facebook page when Dandenong Magistrates’ Court confiscated his ute after he was caught on video skidding into a bystander and sending her flying.
He later wrote that he may as well have been sent to jail.
There was an audible gasp from the court’s public gallery when the video showed the woman being hit.
Mitchell Paul McCullagh’s Falcon XR6 ute furiously burned circles and tyre rubber for about a minute in front of a 100-strong crowd, the video footage showed.
Then in a split second, from out of the thick smoke, the rear tray swung around into front of the frame and hit a young female at the South East Skids illegal meet in Dandenong South in September.
There are no safety barriers between cars and the 100-strong crowd.
The footage shows the victim’s legs being taken out and her being thrown several metres from the impact at the Licola Crescent ‘turnaround bowl’.
The victim was later taken to Monash Medical Centre for treatment. Her injuries were unknown by police but fortunately she survived.
McCullagh’s ute still wore side-panel damage from the incident when it was seized by police on 3 February, the court was told on 8 June.
See the woman being hit.
After the footage first aired on Channel 7 on 15 February, McCullagh called South East Skids organiser Marcus Cory Reddecliffe.
Police prosecutor Acting Sergeant Cameron Smithett told the court that McCullagh said: “I’ve been stressing about that video getting out there and now it’s out.
“So I’m f***ed. I’ll end up going to jail for sure now.”
McCullagh had continued to attend skid meets after knocking down the victim, the court was told.
He was captured on CCTV doing circle burnouts close to a crowd at a Licola Crescent meet on 30 December.
In his police interview, the accused initially denied the allegations then blamed the victim.
“What you can see in that video she’s kissing her boyfriend. Go home and do that, facing opposite direction to that car.
“The car still shouldn’t been doing what it was doing but she should have been watching what she was doing.”
McCullagh, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless conduct endangering serious injury but showed little contrition in a Facebook post on 7 June, Mr Smithett told the court.
The post read: “Let’s hope the judge at court tomorrow takes in to consideration that it is my birthday today and it wouldn’t be very nice to crush a dude’s car a day after his birthday.”
Defence barrister Peter Ward said McCullagh’s intellectual development was in the “lowest profile percentage” and he had often been the “butt of jokes and derision”.
Backed by a psychological report, Mr Ward said the prospect of McCullagh losing his licence was a “catastrophic” consequence.
“His car has been his life. He would prefer his driving to almost any other activity.”
To forfeit the ute would cause undue hardship, Mr Ward said.
The soon-to-be unlicensed McCullagh would “probably” lose his job and have to sell the car due to being unable to pay off a $26,000 car loan.
Magistrate Barry Schulz said the footage was the “worst example of driving” he’d seen from the 20-plus Taskforce Regarder offences.
If not for the psychological report, McCullagh would have been imprisoned, Mr Schulz said.
The accused was convicted and placed on a two-year community corrections order, with supervision and up to 250 hours of unpaid work.
McCullagh was disqualified from driving for 12 months and his ute was forfeited to the Crown.
After the hearing, McCullagh posted on Facebook that he might as well have been “locked up” since losing his car.
“The only person to blame is myself but a bit harsh if you’re asking me.”
On 9 June he posted: “I can’t wait till someone start SES (South East Skids) up again so I can sit back and just laugh!”