No fine for smoke charge

THE highly anticipated court case of a woman, believed to be the first person in NSW charged with smoking with a child in the car, was yesterday settled in Coffs Harbour Local Court.

Alison Therese Manning, 31, of Park Beach, was convicted of the offence, however Magistrate Judith Fleming refrained from handing down a sentence or fine accompanying the crime.

The case is thought to be a precedent, as police believe Ms Manning is the first person charged with the offence to reach the courts.

Ms Manning was caught by police smoking with a three-year-old child in the car when stopped in Harbour Drive at 4.50pm on August 6 - a month after the new laws were introduced on July 1.

She told officers she was aware of the new laws aimed at protecting minors from second-hand smoke, as the mother of the child sat in the passenger's seat.

It was claimed Ms Manning continued to puff away, even when told about the $250 on-the-spot fine for anyone caught smoking in cars with children. During the case, the police maintained that “The accussed fully admitted to smoking in the vehicle and being aware of the current legislation prohibiting smoking in a vehicle with a person under the age of 16.”

Ms Manning pleaded guilty to the charge claiming in court that she 'was not of sound mind, when the offence occurred'.

The case proceeded to court, as Ms Manning was also found to be a suspended driver.

Almost a month after her arrest over those charges, she was again found to be driving a car on the Pacific Highway by police.

Stopped for random breath test at 5.50pm on September 5, she was charged with disqualified driving and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Ms Manning was yesterday found guilty of those charges, sentenced to serve a further six-month disqualification and ordered to pay fines totalling $400.

Is the decision of the court right or wrong? Leave your comment below.

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