Fined for log book mis­take 3 years af­ter charge

$2500 gar­nisheed from SA truckie’s ac­count to pay for un­known and an­cient log­book fine

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Sean Whit­ting­ton and Kirstin Payne

TRUCK driver Steve Murray had $2500 taken from his bank ac­count and he did not have a clue of the rea­son for the with­drawal.

Af­ter mak­ing in­quiries into the with­drawal, he found out that it was a court or­der for a three-year-old log book in­fringe­ment, a mi­nor of­fence in 2014.

Like most, Steve, 62, ad­mits he has prob­a­bly made an ad­min­is­tra­tive mis­take or two in his years of driv­ing.

A let­ter from his bank ad­vised him it had been di­rected by the New South Wales State Debt Re­cov­ery of­fice to re­cover $2400 from his ac­count as pay­ment for a fine im­posed by the NSW ju­di­cial sys­tem.

Af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter fur­ther, Steve dis­cov­ered the fate­ful first let­ter, which would have told him of the of­fence and im­pend­ing date to ap­pear in court, and sub­se­quent fol­low-up let­ters, had all been sent to the wrong ad­dress.

In­stead of ar­riv­ing at his cor­rect ad­dress Fran­cis Rd, Brahma Lodge, the let­ters had been sent to Fran­cis St, Kid­man Park, some 24km away.

The smart­ing truckie is now be­ing told be­cause the of­fence oc­curred more than two years ago he has no right to ap­peal the court judg­ment – some­thing that was made with­out his knowl­edge or abil­ity to de­fend him­self.

“I am so pissed off – I have been found guilty of an of­fence that I didn’t know about and wasn’t given the op­por­tu­nity to de­fend,” Mr Murray said.

“How can you be found guilty of some­thing when you’re not even there to de­fend your­self?

“I would love an op­por­tu­nity to ap­peal the judg­ment but I have been told that is im­pos­si­ble be­cause too much time has passed.

“Ap­par­ently only the De­part­ment of Jus­tice (in NSW) can an­nul the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion and have the case re­heard – but I have been told that is ex­tremely rare.

“I could fight the mat­ter in court but that it would cost me more than the $2500 it has cost me so far.

“So, un­less the NSW At­tor­ney Gen­eral is pre­pared to step in and do some­thing, I will need to build a bridge and get over it.”

Mr Murray dis­cov­ered his mys­te­ri­ous “cold case” started on Fe­bru­ary 12, 2014, when a point-to-point camera – used to mea­sure the time taken for a ve­hi­cle to travel be­tween two lo­ca­tions – chal­lenged the time it took him to travel across the SA bor­der into NSW.

Down the road he was stopped by RMS of­fi­cers who checked the pa­per­work from Steve’s log­book which showed a mi­nor 30 minute dis­crep­ancy in when he took his regulated break – the cat­a­lyst which led to him be­ing charged for pro­vid­ing de­lib­er­ately mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion in a log book.

For­tu­nately, Mr Murray has al­ways kept metic­u­lous and neat log books and has been able to check the en­try from the day in ques­tion.

He knows the day well as

it was his first day back at work af­ter get­ting mar­ried ear­lier in the month.

Steve says the only ex­pla­na­tion he can think of for the over­sight was con­fus­ing NSW and SA time and the fact his phone au­to­mat­i­cally con­verted to NSW time once he crossed the bor­der.

Not that Mr Murray is us­ing that as an ex­cuse, or that it should de­tract from his over­all frus­tra­tion, and the be­lief he has been let down by the ju­di­cial sys­tem.

“It’s the prin­ci­ple of the mat­ter that is driv­ing me,” Mr Murray said.

“I feel like I want to check the Aus­tralian Con­sti­tu­tion to see if some­one can ac­tu­ally be found guilty of an of­fence with­out be­ing in court to de­fend them­selves,” he said.

“Surely com­mon sense should have kicked in some­where – the court case ad­journed un­til they found me, or at least had some sort of re­ply from me.

“Iron­i­cally, I have since found out that a copy of the court judg­ment that was sent to the wrong ad­dress was re­turned as ‘un­de­liv­er­able’.”

Un­for­tu­nately for Steve, an ap­peal to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral to re­open the case may be his only op­tion, ac­cord­ing to Arm­strong Le­gal As­so­ciate, lawyer Sarah Mari­novic.

“In NSW a per­son who is con­victed and sen­tenced in their ab­sence can usu­ally make an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Lo­cal Court to an­nul the con­vic­tion and sen­tence,” she said.

“There is a time limit for that ap­pli­ca­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause Mr Murray has found out about the mat­ter af­ter so many years, the time limit to ap­ply di­rectly to the Lo­cal Court to an­nul the con­vic­tion and sen­tence has ex­pired.

“If Mr Murray wishes to re­open the pro­ceed­ings, he will need to make an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Min­is­ter ask­ing for the mat­ter to be re­ferred back to the Lo­cal Court.

“My best ad­vice is for peo­ple to al­ways dou­ble check that the po­lice of­fi­cer has your cor­rect ad­dress.

“As we have seen from Mr Murray’s case, un­for­tu­nately you are likely to be the one dis­ad­van­taged if the po­lice of­fi­cer has the wrong ad­dress.”

Though the Mag­is­trate has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to sat­isfy them­selves that the in­di­vid­ual has been con­tacted, RMS has ad­vised the in­cor­rect ad­dress may have been pro­vided by the com­pany he was work­ing for at the time.

“Un­der the law, reg­is­tered ve­hi­cle own­ers are re­quired to sup­ply the last known ad­dress of the driver of the ve­hi­cle at the time of an of­fence,” an RMS spokesman said.

“In this in­stance, the reg­is­tered ve­hi­cle owner pro­vided in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion which re­sulted in a court at­ten­dance no­tice not be­ing re­ceived.

Mr Murray’s cor­rect ad­dress would have been eas­ily lo­cated if cross-checked with the ad­dress listed on his South Aus­tralian driver’s li­cence.

It is un­known if Mr Murray’s de­tails were ver­i­fied with the rel­e­vant state road author­ity.

Roads and Mar­itime

❝ It’s the prin­ci­ple of the mat­ter that is driv­ing me — Steve Murray

Ser­vices have ad­vised they are re­view­ing the case and putting in place mea­sures to en­sure the is­sue does not oc­cur in the fu­ture.

Mr Murray has since been put in con­tact with the NSW At­tor­ney Generals of­fice, in the hopes of up­dat­ing this mat­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for Rev­enue NSW, there were 54,533 sim­i­lar gar­nishee or­ders is­sued to 47,362 cus­tomers in the last fi­nan­cial year.

■ Have you had work diary is­sues? Give Big Rigs a call to share your story. Phone 07 3817 1769.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Steve Murray and his wife on their wed­ding day.

PHOTO:SEAN WHIT­TING­TON

OUT OF THE BLUE: Driver Steve Murray was shocked to hear he had not been con­tacted for a fine that had been charged more than three years ago.

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