Long Gully man jailed for breaching a suspended sentence

A Long Gully man who breached a suspended sentence one month after it was imposed – drink-driving while unlicensed – has been sent to jail for six months.

Nathan Atwell, 30, was on a six-month suspended sentence for a burglary at Merbein Primary School, when he was pulled over by police driving in Long Gully on May 29.

Atwell was driving an unregistered car with false plates attached.

A breath test showed he had alcohol in his system but he refused to accompany police to the Bendigo station for further blood alcohol testing because he didn’t “believe” he was drunk.

Atwell pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday to a raft of driving and traffic offences.

His defence lawyer Peter Baker said Atwell had been drinking a “traveller” while driving and had just finished the beer when police pulled him over.

Mr Baker said that while police described his client as being “unsteady on his feet” this could be easily explained by Atwell’s habit of bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

To keep his client from jail Mr Baker had to prove exceptional circumstances.

He said the breach offences were of a “substantially different nature” to those which led to the suspended sentence, and argued Atwell needed to remain in Bendigo to care for his friend’s young son.

Magistrate Richard Wright said this did not prove exceptional circumstances.

“This offence was a month after he got a suspended sentence,” Mr Wright said.

“It was courageous and silly at the same time.

“You had to remain offence-free for six months, that’s a really short period and you have offended.”

Mr Wright reinstated the six-month jail term, fined Atwell $800 and disqualified him from driving for two years.

Atwell became very emotional as police took him away in handcuffs. 

He kissed his friend and her son and told them both he loved them.

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