A private Catholic school in Brisbane’s north has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 in penalties and compensation.
A private Catholic school in Brisbane’s north has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 in penalties and compensation.

Catholic Church to pay $100k after golf cart hits young boy

A private Catholic school in Brisbane's north has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 in penalties and compensation after a groundskeeper crashed a golf buggy into a six-year-old student, causing severe injury to the boy's head and leg.

The Corporation Of The Trustees Of The Roman Catholic Church pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a duty of care, and that failure exposing another person to death or serious injury.

The Pine Rivers Magistrates Court heard that on February 14, 2018 the groundsman at the Mango Hill school was driving a school-owned E-Z-GO D100 golf cart as part of his duties.

At 9.30am that day he was driving along a concrete path when a grade one student left a nearby toilet block, began running back to his class room and was hit by the golf buggy.

He suffered a right temporal haematoma, a fractured tibia, and damaged fibula.

According to material supplied to the court by his mother, the boy was in hospital for five days and had significant and painful episodes during his physical and psychological rehabilitation.

Workplace Health and Safety told the court the school should have implemented appropriate policies and procedures to manage the safe operation of the golf cart, such as allocated particular times the golf cart could be used.

In court barrister representing the church Joshua Jones said the school failed to ensure the safe use of the buggy because the former principal had bought the buggy of his own accord and failed to report it to both his superiors and his successor, therefore leaving those responsible unaware of the oversight.

Mr Jones told the court that health and safety was of "utmost importance" to the church, which acted swiftly to implement policies and changes immediately after they'd become aware of the problem.

He also went on the record to formally apologise to the family.

Magistrate Trevor Morgan said in his sentencing that the golf cart presented a "blindingly obvious risk if not managed appropriately", particularly in an environment full of small children.

Though Mr Morgan acknowledged the church was unaware of the WHS failures until the accident occurred, he said it did not diminish the defendant's responsibility.

Mr Morgan imposed a penalty of $100,000 and ordered the church to pay the complainant $2780.80 to cover their costs.

No conviction was recorded, as the conduct of the church both prior and subsequent to the offence "indicate it has conducted itself as a model citizen", according to Mr Morgan.


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