Cigarettes and 'silliness' part of Gympie police drive off
A BRISBANE man who drove off from police in Garrick St, Gympie, found himself with a jail sentence and a community service order - and all over a late night need for cigarettes.
That was the story in Gympie Magistrates Court on Tuesday, when Brendon Scott Willan, 34, of Belmont, pleaded guilty to disqualified driving and failing to stop for police on September 8 last year.
The court was told police saw a vehicle at Lawrence St and Horseshoe Bend at 12.35am and tried to intercept the car after it turned into Garrick St.
The court was told the driver sped up and pulled away from police, who discontinued their efforts to stop the vehicle.
A registration check led them to the registered owner's address, where they saw the car, found that its engine was still warm.
They also saw Willan and a licence check showed he was disqualified.
He told police he was driving for cigarettes.Willan's solicitor told the court Willan regretted his actions, including driving off.
"He panicked," the solicitor said.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan described Willan's actions as "just silliness."
"You'd be amazed the number of people who get caught unlicensed driving, while going to get cigarettes in the late hours of the night or the early hours of the morning," he said.
Warning of the serious nature of driving off from police, Mr Callaghan said a large number of deaths resulting from police chases had led to the creation of a new and severely punishable offence of failing to stop when required.
"Police died, pedestrian died and people fleeing from the police died," Mr Callaghan said.
He told Willan he faced a mandatory minimum of 50 days actual imprisonment or a fine of 50 penalty units, or about $6300.
Mr Callaghan said he believed the law allowed the imposition of a community service order in lieu of the jail sentence and imposed a 200-hour order, also disqualifying Willan for two years.
That was on top of a six-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, for driving while disqualified.