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Man wins court appeal to have driving suspension slashed

ALARMING: The remains of a tow truck after a crash at Aldershot in January.
ALARMING: The remains of a tow truck after a crash at Aldershot in January. File

A MAN who crashed a tow truck off the side of Aldershot's Farrell Bridge has won a court appeal to have his six month driving suspension slashed to three months.

Blake Joshua Miller, 25, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention in March in Maryborough Magistrates Court, and was fined $1500 and suspended from driving for six months.

But Miller appealed the sentence, arguing that the six month suspension was "manifestly excessive".

The court heard the crash happened on January 10 this year when Miller was driving a tow truck in the southbound land of the Bruce Highway.

Miller fell asleep while driving and when he woke, he saw the truck veering to the left, so he steered right and said he believed the back wheel hit the guard rail of the bridge.

The truck then came off the bridge on the opposite side.

Miller was breath-tested by police at the scene, but returned a negative result.

Evidence given to the court showed that Miller had been fatigued when the crash happened, having slept for five hours before his shift from 7.30pm to 12.30am.

He told police that prior to the crash he "felt his eyes getting tired" so he put the window down and continued driving.

Police also found the back wheels of the truck were devoid of tread and Miller said he was not aware of that as he did not conduct the proper inspection of the truck before starting his journey.

Magistrate John Smith heard the case in March and gave the initial sentence.

In August, the appeal was heard in the District Court of Queensland by Judge Helen Bowskill.

Judge Bowskill said it was clear Mr Smith considered the circumstances of the offence very serious as Miller was a professional truck driver using the Bruce Hwy and he had warning signs of being tired but did not heed them.

"The Magistrate clearly considered there was a need for community protection in the circumstances," Judge Bowskill said in her judgement.

She found a period of suspension was appropriate, but that an error "has been made in the exercise of the discretion by the magistrate in setting the period of the disqualification", and said Mr Smith could have been assisted if he had been referred to comparable decisions in handing down the sentence.

Judge Bowskill ordered the Commissioner of Police, the respondent in the matter, to pay Miller $412.50 for the cost of the court transcript, but ordered each party to pay their own legal fees.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads was approached to try to ascertain the cost of rebuilding the section of the bridge that was damaged in the crash.

"We are in the process of negotiating an outcome with the parties involved in the crash at Aldershot," the spokeswoman said.

"For legal reasons we are not able to provide the cost of repairs to the bridge at this stage."

Topics:  maryborugh



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