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Judge halves dog wash car thief’s licence suspension

A judge has halved the driving disqualification handed to a central Queensland man for stealing and dangerously driving away in a car attached to a mobile dog wash – while the operators were still inside grooming a pet.

Brisbane District Court Judge John Allen recently allowed an appeal by Bailey Clout against a two-year driver’s licence disqualification imposed by a magistrate on 13 April 2022.

Bailey was convicted after pleading guilty in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court to one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle on 16 November 2021.

Clout received fines totalling $1250 for the offences and was disqualified from driving for a period of two years.

He subsequently appealed the driver’s licence disqualification under Section 222 of the Justices Act 1886 on the grounds the punishment was manifestly excessive.

Judge Allen, in a four-page decision published last week, granted Clout’s appeal, saying: “Weighing all the circumstances in the balance, it does seem to me that the period of two years disqualification is manifestly excessive.”

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The court was told that on the day of the offences Clout stole a car and trailer unaware people and a pet animal were still inside.

“(Clout’s victims) owned a mobile dog grooming business (and) were in the rear of the … grooming trailer washing a dog,” Judge Allen said. “(Clout) stole the vehicle whilst the (victims) and the dog were still in the rear of the trailer.

“The dog ran out of the trailer, but the (two business owners) were left inside, when (Clout) drove the vehicle away at speed.

“(Clout) cut in front of other vehicles … hose connections fell onto the road in traffic … (and the owners) were screaming for help.”

Judge Allen said that during the ordeal both of the business owners and other witnesses contacted emergency triple-0 services for assistance.

“(Clout then) parked the vehicle in a nearby street and ran from the scene. One of the (business operators) was taken to hospital for shock. (Clout) was sentenced on the basis that he did not know that there were people in the trailer of the vehicle.”

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Judge Allen said at the time of sentencing Clout had a “lengthy and extensive criminal history” – including court-imposed prison sentences – for various serious offences of violence and multiple vehicle thefts.

The court noted Clout had spent 145 days in pre-sentence custody when the fines were imposed by the magistrate and that no submissions were made regarding the suspension of his driver’s licence.

Clout appealed the two-year disqualification imposed by the magistrate, arguing in the circumstances a period of six to 12 months would be more appropriate.

In a written submission to the court, Clout said: “I really need my licence for job opportunities when I am released, it makes it a lot harder to get one without it.

“Also if I was to lose it for six months then by the time I get out, I can get my P’s straight away and I will be able to drive around legally for the first time in my life. Most of the time I have come to jail recently have been for driving but I will be able to use my mother’s spare car and drive legally so I will be a lot less likely to comit (sic) any more driving crimes.”

Judge Allen granted the appeal and disqualified Clout from holding or obtaining a licence for a period of one year.

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“In my view, a period in excess of the statutory minimum period of disqualification is required to meet the purposes of sentencing, but it should be one of 12 months,” he said.

Read the decision.

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