Truck driver traumatised after 280 sheep killed at Rokewood

A 23-year-old man would have done anything, if he could, to prevent a truck rollover at Rokewood, which killed 280 sheep in November.

Aaron O’Brien was driving a prime mover truck carrying 380 sheep along the Colac-Ballarat Road on November 13 at 9.30pm.

He momentarily became distracted as he rounded a bend and lost control of the heavy vehicle, causing it to flip over.

As a result, 280 sheep were killed or euthanised while O’Brien was shaken but uninjured and able to remove himself from the truck’s cabin.

The Millbrook man pleaded guilty at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday to one count of careless driving.

Magistrate Peter Reardon accepted the rollover was not deliberate and it did not involve drugs, alcohol or speed.

Defence lawyer Scott Belcher said his client was travelling 80km/h on a road that was slightly narrower than the truck.

He said O’Brien was momentarily distracted on his journey from Cressy to Ballarat and ended up on the road’s gravel shoulder but could not correct the vehicle.

Mr Belcher said O’Brien changed his career because of the accident and had been traumatised by the death of the sheep.

“He could not deal with the stresses at the time, he was anxious and his sleeping patterns were disturbed as a result of the accident,” Mr Belcher said.

“He was fearful of getting behind the wheel and has relived the accident.”

O’Brien was an inexperienced truck driver, having been driving for 12 months.

In a letter to the magistrate read in the court room, O’Brien said he was trying to move on from the incident.

“The memory is with me, it’s a vivid memory and I am trying to move on,” O’Brien said.

“If there was anything I could do to prevent it, I would have.”

Mr Belcher said the offence was not a careless or a hooning incident that would normally attract a safe driving program.

He urged the court to consider a 12-month good behaviour bond without a conviction.

Mr Reardon told O’Brien he had a duty of care to all road users but he accepted it was not deliberate and it did not involve drugs, alcohol or speed.

He placed O’Brien on a 12-month good behaviour bond, without conviction, and ordered him to pay $1500 to the court fund.