Police v Neville Betts (Albury Local Court, Murray M, 28 January 2014)

Police v Neville Betts (Albury Local Court, Murray M, 28 January 2014), reported in the Border Mail, 29 January 2014, p. 12.

Facts

The defendant was stopped by police and found to be driving with a blood alcohol reading of 0.170. On the day in question he had attended the grave of his son, who had died 17 years earlier as a result of an assault. After going to the grave, he attended a hotel and drank heavily.

Dispute

The defendant was charged with high range drink driving, to which he pleaded guilty. He was represented by solicitor Mark Cronin.

Ruling

The court noted (and presumably took into account) the date on which the offence occurred. The defendant was sentenced to a 12 month driving ban, a $400.00 fine and an 18 month bond (a condition of which was that he complete a drink-driver education course).

Advertisements

Police v Ross Davidson (Shepparton Magistrates Court, O’Callaghan M, 28 January 2014)

Police v Ross Davidson (Shepparton Magistrates Court, O’Callaghan M, 28 January 2014), reported in the Shepparton News, 29 January 2014, p. 5.

Facts

The defendant was (and presumably still is) a professional driver. He routinely crossed the Goulburn River Bridge at Murchison in a 19 metre long heavy vehicle. The road narrowed when it reached the bridge and his evidence was that he had to swing the truck wide to avoid hitting a guard rail.

Dispute

The defendant was charged with failing to keep to the left of the centreline of the road at the bridge. He pleaded guilty but contended that it was impossible to comply with the law.

The defendant appears to have been unrepresented.

Ruling

Despite the defendant’s guilty plea, the Court declined to record a conviction or impose a fine, so that the only sanction was the statutory loss of demerit points on the defendant’s licence. His Honour observed that the motivation for his decision was that –

The message I am trying to send to VicRoads [the relevant authority] is that you have an inherently unsafe situation. If I can send a message to VicRoads it is to do something about this bridge. This seems to me to be a bridge whose architecture might have been fine in 1938 (when it was built), but in 2014 it needs revisiting”

Notes

The defendant regularly used the bridge and so presumably could not argue that his crossing of the centreline was exactly involuntary (although the evidence did not reveal where the nearest practicable alternative crossing of the river was). To that extent, the case perhaps has a faint echo of R v Larsonneur, 24 Cr App Rep 74 (CCA, Eng., 1933)

Police v Harrison James Cowie (Albury Local Court, Murray M, 28 January 2014)

Police v Harrison James Cowie (Albury Local Court, Murray M, 28 January 2014), reported in the Border Mail, 29 January 2014, p. 8.

Facts

Police signalled to the defendant to stop for a breath test. He slowed his car, but then sharply accelerated and ran a red light at an intersection where 10-15 people were waiting to cross. He then accelerated again and ran a further red light. He then turned off the headlights on his car and continued to drive away.

The defendant voluntarily presented himself at a police station the next day in relation to this incident, stating that his behaviour was due to panicking. Less than a month before this incident the defendant had been convicted by a Victorian court of an assault and sentenced to serve an 8 month Community Corrections Order.

Dispute

The defendant was charged with dangerous driving and failing to comply with a request to stop.

Ruling

The defendant was placed on a 12 month bond, fined $500.00 and disqualified from driving for 14 months in relation to the dangerous driving charge. He was fined $100 for failing to stop. The court said “[y]our driving was disgraceful, but your behaviour after that was commendable”.

Notes

It is not stated whether the conviction in Victoria was considered relevant by the Court.