Tradie victim of a violent road rage trowel attack
A man who bashed a tradie in the head with a metal trowel in an M1 road rage assault, leaving him with a life-threatening brain injury, will spend only 20 months in jail.
And another man who punched victim Brock Prime, then 29, in the head at least three times, while he lay on the ground, has been ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
Mr Prime suffered a fractured skull, brain injury and a broken leg when he was bashed with the concreting trowel by Jonathan Christopher Lawrence, 29, on February 24, 2018.
"You are fortunate you did not kill him," Brisbane District Court Judge Michael Byrne told Lawrence, 29, who on Friday pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Prime on February 24, 2018.
He was sentenced to five years' jail, suspended after 20 months, operational for five years.
Baklas, 30, who pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault occasioning bodily harm, was ordered to do 100 hours of community service, with no conviction recorded.
Mr Prime suffered a depressed skull fracture and bone went into his brain's left cortex and there was significant bleeding, the court heard.
Two-thirds of Mr Prime's skull had to be removed because of swelling of the brain and a prosthesis had to be put in months later.
Judge Michael Byrne described the incident as a "completely unnecessary and highly dangerous melee on a main arterial road" between Brisbane and the Gold Coast around 9.30pm.
"It is difficult to understand how or why any of this occurred in the first place or was continued with," Judge Byrne said.
He said Baklas and Lawrence, who earlier that night been drinking at a buck's night, were in a van driving along the M1 when their vehicle was cut off by Mr Prime's car.
"Tempers flared clearly in both vehicles," Judge Byrne said.
Mr Prime's car took off and the van gave pursuit, with both vehicles weaving through traffic, before Mr Prime pulled over to the side of the M1.
Mr Prime then struck the van with a one-metre long concreting trowel with a blade on the end.
"This was where things got completely out of control," the judge said.
Most of the van occupants got out, Mr Prime was disarmed and the tool was thrown towards his car, before a man from the van smashed the car's windscreen and another threw away his keys.
Judge Byrne said Baklas then fought Mr Prime.
"You stood over a man who was prone on the ground, you punched him to the head at least three times and you shrugged away efforts to have you desist," Judge Byrne told Baklas.
"There was therefore some persistence in your conduct."
Mr Prime was at one stage chased onto the M1 and it was "chaos", with cars having to slow down, the court heard.
Judge Byrne said Mr Prime rearmed himself and struck Lawrence in the collarbone with the trowel, before Lawrence grabbed the tool.
Lawrence then struck Mr Prime in the left leg with the trowel, causing a compound fracture.
"When he was trying to stand up you struck him to the head and knocked him to the ground," Judge Byrne told Lawrence.
"You fractured his skull...the injury penetrated his brain causing, what appears to me to be a lifelong impairment.
"It was so serious that you endangered his life."
Judge Byrne said there was a very real risk that Mr Prime would not survive, but neither Lawrence or others in his group called emergency services.
He said Mr Prime had ongoing life difficulties, he suffered paralysis to the left side of his body, which was likely to be permanent and had a risk of epilepsy.
"How this got so out of hand is mystifying," Judge Byrne said.
He said the ingestion of alcohol could not fully explain it.
The court heard how both Baklas and Lawrence, neither of whom had previous criminal convictions, initially downplayed what they had done.
"I understand the complainant did not behave terribly well, but violence cannot beget violence," Judge Byrne told Lawrence.
"You cannot, when he is merely standing up, in the middle of this melee, strike him to the head with such a powerful tool, as you did."
It was only through the efforts of medical staff and bystanders that Lawrence was not facing a more serious charge, the judge said.
He said while Lawrence was a man capable of kindness, as references indicated, he was being sentenced for a relatively short period of extreme but avoidable violence.
Originally published as Jail time for violent road rage trowel attack