Saturday, March 3, 2012

A fine tale that keeps growing

 We'll follow this case as it develops - I believe on of our Current Affairs TV shows has picked it up and will be broadcasting the story this weekend.

One Hunter Valley lady who resides in the relatively sedate town of Scone, NSW,  reckons there could only be one victim of her ''crime'' of failing to wear a bicycle helmet - herself. The mother of four rides at a gentle jogging speed in the town of Scone and her decision to not to wear a helmet has led to her being ordered to pay $67AUS into a special fund to support victims of crime. 
Her refusal to pay the levy resulted in the government cancelling her driver's licence. Now the region's sheriff has told her he has no choice but to seize her possessions so they can be auctioned to pay the levy, which has grown (over time and with costs) to $213AUS. 
In 2010 a District Court  Judge struck out a fine made against her the Scone Magistrates Court imposed on her for failing to wear a helmet. In doing so, the judge found that she had ''an honestly held and not unreasonable belief as to the danger associated with the use of a helmet by cyclists''.
 Although he found the offence of not wearing a helmet proven, the judge quashed her conviction using a section of the Crimes Act that allows courts to dismiss more minor charges, especially where defendants have few or no convictions. She was still ordered to pay the levy as the former Labor government changed the law in its dying days so that even people who had their convictions quashed under the Crimes Act provisions still had to pay the crime victims levy. 
She complained to the new Liberal government’s Attorney-General about this injustice and requested an exemption. He replied that the new government agreed the Labor amendments were unjust and had changed them so the law now exempted defendants like her from paying the levy if they get their convictions quashed. But the changes would not include her. 
She wrote to the Attorney General and included in her letter her cancelled driver's licence, writing ''I have no further need for it''. 
 Now she is waiting for the state to remove her property. ''I'm feeling a bit anxious about what the sheriff of Muswellbrook can take,'' she said. ''Will it be the family silver or great granny's diamond rings? Maybe I'll just give him the television.'
The original fine was only $50AUS


Chris said...

You have to be joking! What a bloody mess. I hate bureaucrats!!!I-O

Found your blog John after seeing your commet on JG's blog post 'Coping'. Thers's a bloke, I thought, that talks sense!

JohnD said...

True - but I think it is a problem of her own construction. I would've paid the $50 fine and walked away. Seems like she was badly advised!