Magistrate grants army-hopeful a second chance
THE Kingaroy Magistrates Court heard this week how a former Murgon Mustangs player and potential Australian Army recruit almost destroyed his future by driving drunk and unlicensed in the Murgon Showgrounds earlier this year.
At 6am on Saturday, March 14, 18-year-old Jonte Andrew Samual Speedy from Cherbourg was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unlawful possession of a category M weapon, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a licence within the Murgon Showgrounds on Macalister St.
Speedy's defence lawyer Bonnie Djordjevic from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) told the court her client has been offered a placement within the Australian Defence Force within the Army, but stated it is conditional at the moment.
"He is not receiving any income at the moment, but he is working with CTC which is a local community support service and is in the process of applying for Centrelink," she said.
"He also receives significant support from the Clontarf Foundation in terms of accommodation and that was to help him get into the army.
"It's an early plea of guilty, he's a youthful offender at 18-years-old, he has no criminal record and co-operated with police by doing the voluntary police interview and his instructions do demonstrate remorse."
Ms Djordjevic's submission to the Magistrate was for her client to be issued a large fine and the mandatory licence disqualification but submitting for no traffic or criminal conviction to be recorded.
"The basis for this is that Mr Speedy is very young, he's got his whole work life ahead of him. He has applied for the army.
"Mr Korobacz from my office did speak to the warrant officer from the army and they said that a conviction will not definitively ensure he doesn't get in but it is going to mean they will have to sit on a panel and decide whether they are still going to accept him."
Magistrate Andrew Sinclair said the most important factor to him was that Speedy had no recorded history of any kind, he was a very young person and he pleaded guilty and co-operated with police.
"I take these things into account and also understand this behaviour was out of character for you," he said.
"I've heard you don't usually drink, that's an excellent decision to make especially for young people and that lines up with the fact you have no history.
"You've discovered that you can risk the lives of other people and yourself and do considerable damage to property if you do drink and drive. If you're going to make a poor decision in life, which we all do, you're lucky that your first really poor decision didn't lead to a worse outcome for you or those around you."
Mr Sinclair stated Speedy was clearly a fit and capable young man who had graduated high school and was soon to be accepted into the army.
"This event shouldn't shape your future. You've got far more future in front of you than anyone else in this room and we're all entitled to make mistakes … that having been said it's a very dangerous thing to move a large vehicle around even at 60 kilometres per hour when there are other people, campers and whatnot present," he said.
In relation to the dangerous operation offence Mr Sinclair ordered Speedy be fined $1000 and be disqualified from driving for the minimum period of six months.
As for the driving under the influence of alcohol, Speedy was fined a further $500 and was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for three months for that offence.
In relation to the unlawful possession of a weapon, Mr Sinclair ordered forfeiture of the seized item and for the final charge of driving without a licence he received a disqualification of three months.
Mr Sinclair ordered no criminal or traffic histories be recorded and made it clear to Speedy this incident did not need to ruin the rest of his life and career prospects.
He shared a story with the court about the son of a friend who wanted to join the Australian Navy after he crashed a car into a power pole.
"The Navy still took him, he's passed and now he's an able seaman," he said.
"This event doesn't have to define you and you can still make a go of your promising career in the army."