by John Weekes
IT was a horrific crash.
A passenger travelling from Brisbane to Mackay in a prime mover suffered such severe injuries, he had his left leg amputated below the knee.
The driver that day, his mate Benjamin James Gazzara, was jailed for three years.
But now, Gazzara's appeal against the sentence has been partially successful.
The accident happened in September 2013 and Gazzara was driving the prime mover and trailer, carrying a load of about 16 tonnes.
His friend was in the passenger seat. The men were planning to go to Mackay and were on Brisbane's Gateway Motorway.
Queensland Court of Appeal said Gazzara was travelling in excess of the speed limit, causing his friend - also a truckie - to suggest Gazzara "might want to back off a bit”.
Mr Gazzara, who is now 29, replied "it'll be right”, and did not slow down, the appeal court said.
The semi-trailer tipped over when Gazzara changed lanes because there was a slower truck travelling in the right lane.
The prime mover rolled to the left as well before smashing through a metal barrier with the trailer and plunging off an embankment to a road below.
Mr Gazzara was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.
He pleaded guilty in August last year and two months later was sentenced to three years in jail.
That sentence was to be suspended after six months but operational for four years. He was also banned from driving for three years.
Gazzara argued these penalties were excessive.
He also raised issues about the way his trial was handled and how his guilty plea emerged.
Basically, he believed he was innocent and his guilty plea at the time was not actually an admission of guilt.
The appeal against conviction was dismissed but Gazzara's application for leave to appeal against sentence was allowed.
His driver's licence disqualification was reduced from three years to two years. The rest of the sentence was confirmed.
The appeal court judges reached their decisions unanimously.