Very nearly straight to jail — maybe next time

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

A MAN caught driv­ing for the sec­ond time af­ter his li­cence was dis­qual­i­fied for be­ing drunk be­hind the wheel was lucky not to be go­ing to jail, a mag­is­trate has said.

Stu­art Knee­bone was placed on a 12-month com­mu­nity cor­rec­tions or­der af­ter plead­ing guilty in Echuca Mag­is­trates Court re­cently to driv­ing while dis­qual­i­fied.

Po­lice pros­e­cu­tor Se­nior Con­sta­ble Paul Bush said po­lice stopped Knee­bone on McKen­zie Rd, Echuca, about 6.30am on April 24 this year.

Checks re­vealed his li­cence was dis­qual­i­fied for 26 months on May 16 last year af­ter a drunk driv­ing con­vic­tion, record­ing a blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of 0.134. It fol­lowed an­other drunk driv­ing con­vic­tion in 2009 where he blew 0.12.

The court heard af­ter Knee­bone’s first driv­ing while dis­qual­i­fied con­vic­tion, he was placed on a com­mu­nity cor­rec­tions or­der which he breached.

Mag­is­trate Patrick Southey said if the prisons weren’t at burst­ing point, jail would be an op­tion for Knee­bone.

‘‘Fif­teen years ago, I would have sen­tenced him to jail but sen­tenc­ing prac­tices have changed,’’ he said.

‘‘You try to pro­tect the com­mu­nity by putting him off the road but he keeps driv­ing. This is very se­ri­ous and shows to­tal dis­re­gard for the law.’’

Lawyer Adrian Am­brose said Knee­bone had re­cently sep­a­rated from his part­ner of three years and had to drive him­self to work.

‘‘He has en­gaged with the Cool Heads pro­gram, handed in the keys to his car and moved home, so his mother and brother take him to work,’’ he said.

Mr Southey also con­victed and fined Knee­bone $500.

‘‘This is your last chance,’’ he said.

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