4 November 2021

Ute crushed by heavy machinery after its co-owner 'lost control' at business partner

| Albert McKnight
Richard Lanigan and his lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith

Richard Lanigan (left) leaves court after his sentencing with his lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith. Photo: Albert McKnight.

After Richard Lanigan lost his temper at his business partner, he drove their ute into him, chased him down a road, then returned to their worksite to destroy the vehicle with a front end loader – despite being a part-owner of it.

The 42-year-old avoided spending any extra time in jail when he was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (3 November), during which his violent outburst was repeatedly labelled “bizarre”.

Magistrate Robert Cook said Lanigan used to run a masonry business with his business partner, and future victim, in north Canberra.

On the afternoon of 3 June 2020, he called his partner saying he needed extra help for a job and told him to return to their worksite.

“Where are you? You better get your arse up here now,” he told him.

His partner came back and the two got into an argument. Lanigan drove a Toyota Hilux into his partner, making “light” contact with his leg. He drove the car at him again and the victim thought Lanigan was trying to run him over.

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The victim tried to drive away, but Lanigan followed and rammed into him several times under the Federal Highway underpass.

Lanigan then returned to their worksite and used a front end loader to “wipe out” the Hilux, Magistrate Cook said, despite owning 50 per cent of it as it was their business’s car.

“I used that loader to smash the ute to pieces,” Lanigan told police when they arrived.

Magistrate Cook said it was “a stupid and silly thing to do”.

He said there was a “complete loss of control” and a co-worker was at the worksite at the time so was also exposed to the “erratic behaviour”.

Michael Kukulies-Smith of Kamy Saeedi Law said it appeared his client had an emotional or mental breakdown at the time.

He said Lanigan had reacted to what he perceived to be the “laziness” of his business partner as well as other matters in an “irrational” way.

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Mr Kukulies-Smith described the event as “a very unfortunate aberration in his life” and that his client was “grateful the consequences are not more serious” as there were no injuries reported.

The court also heard Lanigan spent eight days in custody over the offences and is bipolar.

Lanigan pleaded guilty to charges of menacing driving, unlicensed driving and damaging property.

He was sentenced to two months’ jail, fully suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order and fined $600. He was also disqualified from driving for three months.

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