Reprieve for helmet offenders

Thursday April 06, 2017 Written by Published in Crime
While many local riders don’t seem to want to wear a helmet, this tourist didn’t bother to take hers off while taking a holiday snap at the entrance to Avana harbour. 17040617 While many local riders don’t seem to want to wear a helmet, this tourist didn’t bother to take hers off while taking a holiday snap at the entrance to Avana harbour. 17040617

It was an extraordinary day in the High Court yesterday and a lucky one for 36 people who had not paid their fines for minor traffic offences - including not wearing helmets. 

 

They were all given two more weeks to pay what they owed in the hope they would choose to avoid having criminal convictions recorded against their names.

In an unprecedented move, the police, Crown Law, Justice of the Peace John Whitta and defence counsel Mark Short took a 40-minute break and held an in-chambers meeting to try to come up with a solution to prevent so many young people receiving convictions.

On returning to the bench, Whitta addressed those facing punishment for non-payment of fines.

“Before we start, all of you still in court are here for minor traffic offences. There’s a lot on the list and the police and Crown Law - with the help of Mr Short - have come up with a solution just for today.

“We just wanted to get a process that gets everyone through.

“I will say it is your lucky day because what we are going to do for all matters today – for minor traffic offences – is adjourn them for three weeks till April 27.

“All of your fines were supposed to have been paid within seven days of you being supposedly caught for offences. You now have another seven days.”

Police prosecutor Sergeant Fairoa Tararo then suggested that be made 14 days to allow for those who are paid fortnightly.

Whitta agreed and said: “On the 27th all of you who have not paid your fines will come back to this court and you will face a fresh charge, a separate offence, of failing to pay your fine.”

Whitta explained to the almost exclusively young offenders that a conviction could hurt their job chances or disrupt future travel plans.

“When you young people are travelling you sometimes get asked if you have a conviction.

“It may not seem like much to you, may not seem so bad, but trust me if you try to go into a country and have to tick that box, or go for a job, and you have to tick that box then it could change things.

“You may not get that job, or get into that country.

“If you lie on those forms it’s even worse. My advice to you is to use the 14 days to pay your fines and get it settled.”

He said if they come back on April 27 and the fine has not been paid then they will face a fresh charge that has a criminal conviction.

“Now the maximum fine on that is way above that for traffic offences. It’s $500. Plus you will be charged with cost of your fine.

“So whatever your fine is add $500 to it if you have not paid within 14 days.”

Defence counsel Short said: “The last thing we need is to have 16-year-olds with convictions.”

He said the offences were misdemeanours, minor infringements, and brought about because of the helmet laws.

“By its very nature the act of not wearing a helmet isn’t a criminal offence, it becomes an offence when they don’t pay the fines.”

And he said there needed to be a review in the way summonses are drafted and that’s why the court “has given them a grace period of 14 days”.

He agreed it was a pretty strong warning to young people.

“A lot of the kids are irresponsible, a lot of them don’t understand. Their parents don’t even know they’ve been issued with a fine or infringement notice.

“So we hope doing it this way they are given a chance and it is an opportunity for them to tell their parents so they can get these fines paid so they won’t have to come to court again.

“At the end of the day if you have broken the law and don’t pay a fine then you will be convicted.

“Those that have a really relaxed attitude to the law will definitely get punished.”

Short said: “That’s the reason I asked for meeting in the chambers with the judge. I don’t want 16 or 17-year-olds to get convicted for a minor offence of not wearing a helmet.

“They don’t think about the consequences.”

 

3 comments

  • Comment Link Tina Thursday, 13 April 2017 08:36 posted by Tina

    Why don't you just find a way - like a padlock or chain method, to disable the scooter and make the youngster catch the bus until they come back with a helmet ? Doesn't cost and no criminal conviction. But does teach a lesson.

  • Comment Link Natasha benns Saturday, 08 April 2017 02:31 posted by Natasha benns

    Hi , sorry to say this but some people just don't have the money, living in the island Cost a lot, I think u should do something like conuntey service .. you put more pressure on the parents, when it's them that pay the bill.
    Cleaning up the beaches is a good start.

  • Comment Link Kaf Friday, 07 April 2017 09:14 posted by Kaf

    Thats a good Strategy to put in place for the youngsters. I hope its a wakeup call for them and that they appreciate it and learnt their lesson. I look forward to the outcome of this story. Cheers.

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