Typo excuse doesn't wash in court

TAKING advantage of a typo in a Queensland Transport database yesterday earned a serial traffic offender a conviction and a stern rebuke when he appeared in the Warwick Magistrates Court yesterday.

Jake Daniel McElhone, 29, pleaded guilty to driving without a licence and driving an uninsured vehicle, his fifth such appearance before the courts in as many years.

Magistrate Anne Thacker heard that McElhone was seen by police on January 15 in Warwick driving a vehicle without licence plates.

McElhone told the court that he had been driving his vehicle after earlier being advised by Queensland Transport over the phone that he was eligible to regain his licence after a previous disqualification.

But as it turned out, the QT database had incorrectly recorded the disqualification – handed down in May 2009 – as two months, instead of two years.

McElhone said he accepted he had done the wrong thing by driving the vehicle but said it could be seen to be the fault of the department for giving him incorrect advice.

This did not wash with Magistrate Thacker, who pointed out that McElhone was not entitled to be back behind the wheel until May 19 this year.

“It is wilful blindness on your part to say that it was the fault of Queensland Transport,” she told McElhone.

“The fact is that whatever someone told you over the phone, you were in court the day that sentence was handed down to you.

“You knew you were to be off the road for two years. It’s not a mistake you needed to take advantage of, it’s a mistake that you needed to have corrected.”

Ms Thacker noted McElhone had a history including a dangerous driving charge for which he received six months probation, as well as a three-month jail term for repeat unlicensed driving.

McElhone had been granted immediate parole as part of the latter sentence, meaning he did not serve actual jail time. He avoided jail again yesterday, when Ms Thacker sentenced him to another three months with immediate parole, along with a $720 fine for driving an unregistered vehicle, capped off with a further two-year driving disqualification.

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