Judge grants parole to repeat traffic offender after a week in jail

A judge yesterday ordered the immediate release of a disqualified motorist with a lengthy traffic history after an appeal against an “unreasonable or plainly unjust” jail term.

In Riddell v The Commissioner of Police [2021] QDC 92, Brisbane District Court Judge Vicki Loury granted an appeal by Alexander Stephen Riddell against the sentence imposed by a magistrate last Tuesday 25 May and ordered his immediate release from custody on parole.

The court was told that Riddell, a 54-year-old electrician and businessman, had a significant traffic history – racking up 22 offences, including convictions for drink-driving and disqualified driving.

Judge Loury, in five-page published decision, said Riddell was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, with a parole release date fixed at 24 June, after pleading guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to one count of disqualified driving. He was also disqualified from driving for three years.

Riddell appealed the sentence on the grounds it was manifestly excessive.

In assessing the appeal, Judge Loury said: “It is not being contended by (Riddell) that the Magistrate made any specific error, rather that the penalty imposed was ‘unreasonable or plainly unjust’.”

The court was told police stopped Riddell while he drove a car along Sandgate Road, Albion, on 13 April this year – one month after his driver’s licence had been suspended.

“He told police he knew his licence was disqualified and that he never drives the car, but that he did so on this occasion,” Judge Loury said.

“At the hearing his solicitor indicated to the court that one of his apprentices would ordinarily drive the vehicle, however he had fallen ill and (Riddell) drove the car home from work.

“(Riddell) has now spent one week in custody. In those circumstances I would order that he be released on parole today, 31 May 2021.”

Judge Loury, in making her decision, said that she had taken into account the concerning features of Riddell’s traffic history, which included:

  • three convictions for disqualified driving, albeit the most recent was over 10-years ago
  • one conviction for unlicensed driving
  • six convictions for drink-driving, and
  • disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence on seven occasions.

Read the decision.

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