Court disagrees with cyclist who says sun hat trumps helmet

A North Queensland cyclist has failed in his third and final bid to overturn a fine for riding without a safety helmet on the grounds that it prevented him wearing a hat protecting him from a recurrence of skin cancer.

The Court of Appeal in Townsville this month dismissed an appeal by a man, identified here as ARR, against convictions entered against him by a magistrate in Cairns on 23 July last year for the offences of riding a bicycle without a helmet, obstructing police in the performance of their duty and being a public nuisance.

The Cairns Magistrate Court was told that in September 2019, ARR was stopped by a police officer while riding a bicycle to speak to him about not wearing an approved safety helmet.

Court of Appeal Justice Philip McMurdo, in his recently published decision, said: “The police officer stopped him whilst he was riding his bicycle and spoke to him about not wearing a helmet.

“The officer asked him repeatedly to walk home, which (ARR) resisted and attempted to ride away on his bike. When he was physically stopped from doing so, he became abusive and aggressive.”

ARR, who represented himself throughout all court proceedings, agreed that he was riding without an approved helmet on a roadway.

Justice McMurdo said: “(ARR’s) explanation, and purported justification, for this conduct is that to have worn a helmet would have precluded him from wearing a hat of the kind which was necessary to prevent a recurrence of skin cancer. It is obvious to say that the police officer was not making him ride his bike without his hat.

“The police officer was asking him not to ride his bike without a helmet, and to push his bike home.”

ARR was fined $121 for failing to wear a bike helmet and ordered to perform 40-hours of community service for obstructing police and being a public nuisance.

Justice McMurdo noted this was not ARR’s first encounter with the justice system as a result of his riding a bicycle without a helmet for the same reason.

Ten years ago ARR was convicted of an offence of riding whilst not wearing an approved helmet, unsuccessfully appealed that conviction to the District Court and unsuccessfully applied for leave to appeal the matter in the Court of Appeal.

In dismissing the appeal, Justice McMurdo said: “Whatever (ARR) may think … there is no substantial injustice which has occurred in this case, and nor is there any reasonable argument that there was an error on the part of the (District Court) judge (on appeal) or the magistrate.

“(ARR’s) arguments do not address the elements of this offence and the undisputed facts of its occurrence. I would refuse the application for leave to appeal.”

Justices Debra Mullins and David North agreed.

Read the decision.

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