Jet ski driver with ‘dis­re­gard’ for law

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS COURT -

ONE man’s un­li­censed jet ski rides, one of which al­most caused a 71-year-old woman to fall over­board, have re­sulted in a $6500 fine.

Nigel Clive Tucker faced Proser­pine Mag­is­trates Court on Mon­day for two in­ci­dents where he drove his jet ski with­out the proper per­sonal water­craft li­cence and also drove dan­ger­ously at speed.

The 55-year-old Proser­pine man pleaded guilty to all five charges.

Po­lice pros­e­cu­tor Bern­hard Berger said the most danger­ous in­ci­dent oc­curred on Jan­uary 16 around 8.30am at Shute Har­bour when Tucker had a near miss with a 71-year-old woman.

As the woman was trav­el­ling from the pub­lic jetty to her boat, Tucker drove his jet ski around 20 knots and was said to be on a “col­li­sion course” with her. He came to a stop about two me­tres from her ten­der which caused a wash, cov­ered her in wa­ter and nearly threw her from her boat.

Af­ter hav­ing words with each other, the woman con­tin­ued on but Tucker fol­lowed her and got as near as 30cm to her boat be­fore “ag­gres­sively ac­cel­er­at­ing while com­plet­ing two cir­cles around the woman” caus­ing the boat to al­most cap­size.

Tucker also rode his jet ski be­tween 15-20 knots in the di­rec­tion of a man on the pub­lic boat ramp, get­ting so close, the man jumped out of the way.

Four wit­nesses then saw Tucker trav­el­ling in ex­cess of 54 knots in a six knot zone through the har­bour as he left.

Although the jet ski was reg­is­tered, Tucker did not hold a li­cence to drive it.

To fur­ther com­pound his prob­lems, he was also charged fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent on Novem­ber 13, 2016, when wa­ter po­lice saw him speed off at the Proser­pine Dam, trav­el­ling in ex­cess of 50km/h along the dam foreshore, which has a speed limit of 5km.

De­fence so­lic­i­tor David Fitzger­ald, of Macrossan and Amiet, said Tucker had pur­chased the jet ski in Oc­to­ber last year af­ter re­cently re­lo­cat­ing to the Whit­sun­days.

He said he had strug­gled to find the right cour­ses to ac­quire his jet ski li­cence.

How­ever mag­is­trate Si­mon Young de­scribed the ex­cuse as “rub­bish”.

“Every fort­night the yacht club has cour­ses,” he said.

“It’s a ca­sual dis­re­gard for the law.”

Mr Fitzger­ald said his client “did not in­tend harm or dam­age”, and that “upon re­flec­tion he ac­knowl­edges the sheer stu­pid­ity of his ac­tions... and ac­cepts his con­duct was reck­less, im­ma­ture and po­ten­tially danger­ous”.

In sen­tenc­ing, mag­is­trate Si­mon Young said op­er­at­ing on wa­ter was a “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment”.

“When things go wrong they go badly wrong and there is very lit­tle room to ma­noeu­vre,” he said.

“You have op­er­ated that ves­sel in a highly danger­ous way with com­plete dis­re­gard for the safety of other ves­sels and peo­ple on board boats, which was com­pounded by your lack of li­cence.”

In ad­di­tion to the $6500 fine, Tucker was dis­qual­i­fied from hold­ing a marine li­cence for 12 months.

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