Drunk bobcat joyride ends in worker’s death 

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

A drunk road worker who killed a mate while “showing off” in a bobcat is facing up to 25 years in jail, a court has been told.

Christopher Bell, 53, had been drinking beers with co-workers on a Wednesday afternoon after his shift when he jumped behind the wheel of a company bobcat and began driving around.

CCTV from nearby businesses captured Bell in the act, driving in circles and accelerating towards and away from the group around the site. 

Within 20 minutes, he accidentally ran over and crushed George Tevera, 34, who appeared injured but conscious when paramedics arrived on the scene.

“Idiot got into the bobcat and ran over my friend, his calf has been split open,” one of the other men told triple-0 at the time.

After being rushed to hospital, Mr Tevera died two hours later due to severe abdominal and pelvic injuries.

Bell left the scene before police arrived but returned an hour later and did a blood alcohol test that showed a reading of 0.1 – double the legal limit. 

At the time, Bell told police he shouldn’t have been operating the excavator but denied performing any circles, instead saying the machinery bucked forward before the fatal collision.

11 months later, detectives charged Bell with manslaughter by criminal negligence, and he was extradited from NSW to face the charges in August 2023.

Appearing in the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday for a pre-sentence hearing, prosecutor Erin Ramsey said that Bell hadn’t intended to run Mr Tevera over, but his decision to drive drunk and his erratic behaviour amounted to negligence.

“The prosecution case is put on the basis that Mr Bell owed a duty of care to his colleagues when operating the bobcat,” she said.

The footage, she said, revealed Bell was “showing off” to his friends and driving in a “hoon-like” manner before killing Mr Tevera.

Bell was seen wiping away tears as Mr Tevera’s mother, Pauline, and partner, Larisa, read victim impact statements to the court.

His mother said she held a lot of anger and frustration over “the senselessness” of her son’s death. 

“I can’t stop thinking about what happened and how he must have suffered … There will always be an emptiness inside of me,” she said. 

His barrister, Angie Wong, said Bell was deeply remorseful and took full responsibility for his actions.

“The guilt and the horror is something that weighs upon him heavily,” Ms Wong said.

“This is a case of stupidity rather than wickedness … but it had extremely grave consequences.”

However, the judge also noted Bell’s lies to police and his claims that Mr Tereva encouraged him to get behind the wheel, even though other witnesses did not hear encouragement.

Justice Christopher Beale reserved his sentence and will hand it down on June 14.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.