Shepparton News

Jail time push over drugs


- By Alex Mitchell

A magistrate has called for the ability to jail drivers found with methamphet­amine in their system, indicating he would have done so in the case of two heavy vehicle drivers before Shepparton Magistrate­s’ Court.

Anthony John Napolitano pleaded guilty to failing an oral fluid test, possessing methylamph­etamine along with four further charges relating to failing to record required informatio­n in his heavy vehicle log book, while in a separate matter John Cracknell pleaded guilty to failing an oral fluid test along with two failures to record informatio­n in his log book and driving for longer than the maximum permitted work time.

Magistrate Steven Raleigh told both defendants he believed failing an oral f luid test should carry a maximum penalty that includes jail time.

Currently, even those facing a third offence of that charge face fines, licence cancellati­ons and driving disqualifi­cations.

‘‘Every day in every court in this country magistrate­s are faced with heavy vehicle drivers driving with methamphet­amine in their system,’’ Mr Raleigh told Cracknell.

‘‘The sooner they make it a jailable offence, the better.’’

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Gary Steel told the court Napolitano, 25, was intercepte­d for a compliance check at a weighbridg­e on the Hume Fwy near Broadford at 9 am on May 29, 2020, where a roadside oral fluid test returned a positive reading.

Police located a glass pipe and two small bags of methamphet­amine in his prime mover.

Napolitano, who was driving from Port Melbourne to Lemnos, told police after his arrest he ‘‘takes methamphet­amine to stay awake’’.

His lawyer Tony Sofra submitted he was ‘‘very, very responsibl­e’’, but Mr Raleigh strongly disagreed, stating ‘‘he drives under the influence of drugs . . . he’s not a responsibl­e man’’.

‘‘If I had the power to jail him under the legislatio­n, I would be jailing him,’’ Mr Raleigh said. ‘‘It’s terrifying.’’

Mr Sofra said Napolitano’s job was terminated as a result of the offending, adding he was working hard to provide for his family which ‘‘shows a degree of responsibi­lity’’.

Meanwhile, Cracknell was intercepte­d by police on January 22 at 12.45 am on BarmahShep­parton

Rd, where a subsequent oral fluid test revealed methamphet­amine in his system.

Cracknell told the court he did a VicRoads medical every 12 months due to a brain disease.

‘‘I wouldn’t like you on the road at all. It’s the third time you’ve been caught driving under the influence of drugs,’’ Mr Raleigh told him.

Napolitano was fined $1400 and disqualifi­ed from driving for 12 months, while Cracknell was fined $750 and disqualifi­ed from driving for 12 months.

‘‘Drivers of large vehicles, and small vehicles, who drive under the influence of drugs put every innocent driver at risk and we have to do something to stamp it out,’’ Mr Raleigh said.

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