‘Language barrier no excuse’
AN interpreter was required at the Proserpine Magistrate’s Court this week for a Chinese woman accused of obstructing police in front of children on their way to school.
Mandarin-speaking Xuemei Chen was asked how she pleaded to the charge by a Mr Lu, who assisted her in court by telephone.
She initially replied in English, using the words ‘ok’ and ‘thanks’.
“So he’s talking Mandarin, you’re talking English – what’s going on?” magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist asked.
Chen’s “language barrier” was actually described as in some way contributing to the offence of January 27.
On this day police were patrolling school zones in Proserpine when they saw Chen commit a traffic offence and pulled her over around the corner from the high school.
Police prosecutor Elizabeth Smith said Chen, who was with her daughter at the time, became “extremely angry” when issued with an infringement notice.
According to Ms Smith, Chen began waving her arms and yelling at police, who tried to calm her down due to the presence of school children who had stopped to watch.
Ms Smith said Chen tore up the infringement notice and threw it at police. She also ran in front of the police car blocking their attempts to leave.
Duty lawyer Lachlan Ygoa-McKeown said the 47-year-old was “quite upset” due to some confusion with a ‘lolly-pop person’ at the crossing.
He said the whole incident “ultimately stems out of miscommunication due to language barriers”.
“And whilst not excusing the behaviour it goes some way towards explaining it.”
Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist said he didn’t buy this excuse.
“She can’t be that perplexed about a marked police car with uniformed officers writing out a ticket to give her,” he said.
“There’s no other way to put this – this was absolutely disgraceful behaviour in front of a school, in front of school children and in front of her daughter.”
Mr Stjernqvist also had something to say about Mr Ygoa-McKeown’s pleas for no conviction to be recorded due to Chen wanting to become an Australian citizen.
“If she wants to be a citizen of Australia she’s going to have to quickly work out what it is police do and comply with their requests in the future,” he said.
Chen was fined $550 but the conviction was not recorded.