Mum’s anger over punishment in beach horror case

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A mum has blasted the “unfair” punishment handed to a lifeguard who ran over her son as he sunbathed on a beach in Australia.

Chesterfield-born Dominic Francisco, 26, who attended St Mary’s school before travelling to Australia to work, and his Canadian friend Saba Akbarishandiz, 28, were lying on the sand on the iconic Surfers Paradise beach in Queensland when they were run over by the Gold Coast Lifeguard Service 4WD vehicle.

Driver Luke Bartlett, 24, was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid community service when he appeared before Southport Magistrates’ Court today.

Mr Francisco’s mum Denise Hawksworth, of Ashgate, said: “This punishment is nothing considering what’s happened.

“My son has suffered considerable pain and stress, he’s not been able to work for months and he’s had to pay thousands of dollars in court costs.

“We’re absolutely outraged.”

The pair spent several days in hospital suffering from leg and chest injuries after the incident on December 23.

Ms Hawksworth, a Chesterfield councillor and the town’s deputy mayor, added: “Getting the phone call the day before Christmas Eve was so horrendous for all the family. Trying to speak to doctors to find out all the facts and make a judgement on whether to jump on a plane immediately was so scary. We could not believe what had happened.”

The court heard Mr Bartlett did not see the sunbathing tourists as he was focused on getting to a collapsed swimmer. Mr Bartlett’s solicitor said his client was left in shock after the incident and had undergone counselling.