Man says tattooed Tongans forced him behind wheel

A DISQUALIFIED driver, who claimed he was forced to get behind the wheel by a pair of large, tattooed men, will have to wait until next month to find out if he will go to jail for the offence.

Orlando Charlie Arama, 23, pleaded guilty in Hervey Magistrates Court to being a repeat offender for disqualified driving, but Magistrate Graeme Tatnell said he wasn't sure he could accept Arama's plea.

Arama claimed he was forced to drive, which may constitute a defence to the charge.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Nicole Kunkel said Arama was intercepted on the Bruce Hwy at Torbanlea, on May 19.

His licence at the time was disqualified by a court order, and he was also on a suspended prison sentence for continued offences of disqualified driving, Snr Const Kunkel said.

The court heard Arama had previous similar offences in 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Arama said his two passengers had intimidated him into driving.

He described them as huge Tongans with gang tattoos, and said he didn't know how to react when they told him to drive.

"I was forced to drive because they were drinking," he said.

Snr Const Kunkel said a jail term should be imposed, based on Arama's history of similar offences.

Mr Tatnell said there may be a defence to the charge if it could be proved Arama was forced to drive, notwithstanding Arama's earlier guilty plea.

The case was adjourned to July 4, when a duty lawyer will be present in court.



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