Driver fined for talking on mobile

HE'S fumbled his way through a plea before but a Warwick man was unsuccessful when he contested a charge yesterday of using a mobile phone while driving.

At a previous Warwick Magistrates Court appearance Brian Bruce Zwoerner was unable to voice the distinction between a “not guilty” and “guilty” plea when questioned but during yesterday's hearing there was no mistaking the ruling remarks of visiting Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist.

Choosing to represent himself, Zwoerner was adamant he had not used his phone while behind the wheel, and the police officer who spotted him chatting was “ high on drugs and had hallucinated”.

“I'm innocent; I didn't talk on the mobile,” Zwoerner said.

Police prosecutor Ken Wiggan called two Warwick police officers to the witness stand, including the officer who saw Zwoerner talking with a hand-held device to his ear about 20 metres from where the officer was standing.

The first witness – a senior constable of the Warwick traffic branch – said he was on duty but dressed in plain clothes and waiting on the sidewalk at the intersection of Albion and Fitzroy streets on the look-out for motorists breaking traffic laws on August 12.

“I saw a small white Isuzu truck in the lane closest me; it slowed pace for the light and I could see his mouth moving as he was talking on the mobile phone with his right hand and his left hand on the steering wheel,” the police officer said.

“I've made radio contact with two other officers in a marked police car (about what was witnessed) and they've spoken to (Zwoerner) down the highway.”

The second witness – a Warwick police sergeant – said police often dressed in plain clothes to discreetly observe motorists who run red and yellow lights, don't wear seat belts and talk on a mobile phone while driving.

Zwoerner did not give evidence during the hearing and tried to change his plea to guilty during his closing statement as he thought he was “losing”.

With the onus of proof on the police prosecutor to prove Zwoerner spoke on his phone while driving beyond reasonable doubt, Magistrate Stjernqvist found the defendant guilty.

Zwoerner was fined $300 for talking and charged $76.55 in court fees.

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