Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Australian Life - a travesty of justice?

If correctly reported,  I found this Armidale Express story quite staggering. I repeat the story in full. Comments follow. 

An Armidale camper who fled an armed attack found himself in court after police charged him with negligent driving.

Ian Bettinson  was found guilty of the offence and drink driving  while seeking help from police after he was bashed in the head.

He had been camping alone in the Tweed Valley when he was allegedly attacked by three men with baseball bats.

The court heard after escaping from his attackers, Bettinson, who didn’t have access to a phone, drove his car to seek help and, seeing a police vehicle, pulled over behind it to alert them of the attack.

He remained in his car while the officers called for an ambulance, but Bettinson became increasingly agitated about his injuries and released the handbrake, causing the car to roll slowly forward into the police vehicle.

They then charged him with negligent and drink driving, having been found to be just .01 over the legal limit.

The court heard that Mr Bettinson suffers from cancer and mental health issues, which contributed to his level of agitation.  Magistrate Karen Stafford said while she had taken the circumstances into account, she felt  Bettinson still needed to be punished for getting behind the wheel.

“Members of the public on Tweed Valley Way were put at risk as he was driving with an injury and while intoxicated,” she said.  

Bettinson was fined $150 for negligent driving and $350 for drink driving and lost his licence for six months.

A police spokeswoman said the department could not comment on whether the police should have made the charges or if they went in search of the assailants.

Sorry, if this story is in any way accurate, it strikes me as a travesty of justice.

What on earth were the police and Magistrate Stafford thinking? So Mr Bettinson who has just been bashed and is seeking police help is to be punished for driving with an injury and while intoxicated. So what is he meant to do. Go away and suffer his injuries in silence?

I know that I often complain about Australia's present rules based obsession, but surely this is crazy? Maybe some reader can provide a rational defence of just what happened. For the life of me, I can't see it!


Rummuser said...

Jim, this sounds like something that would happen in some of our rural police stations / courts. In a quirky way this reminds of the reason for most people not willing to help accident victims on Indian roads because they do not want to be involved with the cops and the justice system even as witnesses.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's interesting, Ramana. Things aren't that bad in Australia, thank heaven. But we have so many laws now, supported by regulations and protocols that the scope for common sense is reduced.

Winton Bates said...


Anonymous said...

Call me old fashioned but my money's on Magistrate Stafford. Also, there is a difference between 'correctly reported' and 'fully reported' .

And is that the artist, by any chance? Never mind - NOMB


Jim Belshaw said...

Quite, Winton, if correctly reported. kvd, I accept your distinction re correctly and fully and note where your money is! However, in this case I would go with correctly reported.