Perjury accused wins back driver’s licence on appeal in Bendigo court

A BIG Hill woman who lied to police about the identity of the driver of a speeding car has had her conviction overturned, but not before a County Court judge called her an “idiot”.

The 26-year-old appeared in the County Court in Bendigo on Tuesday to appeal her sentence handed down in Kyneton in August last year.

She was a passenger in her mother’s car – being driven by another individual – which was clocked at over 150 kilometres per hour on August 17, 2016.

The woman later signed a false declaration to police because she did not want to “dob in a mate”, the court was told.

She was charged with perjury, making a false report to police and failing to give information about the driver of a vehicle.

A magistrate convicted her and put her on a 12-month community corrections order with 80 hours of community work.

Her licence was also disqualified for two years – the mandatory minimum for a conviction for failing to provide information about the driver.

Her appeal focused on overturning this conviction as the lack of licence meant she was unable to get to work to pay off her mortgage.

Defence counsel Bill O’Donnell said there was limited public transport to Big Hill and the woman was in danger of losing her house if she did not have her driver’s licence.

“She’s going to effectively lose her property,” he said.

“This is a young woman who is trying to do her best, who thoroughly regrets what she’s done, and is trying to remedy it.”

The woman had left an abusive relationship in the months before the incident.

Prosecutor Melissa Mahady said the mandatory loss of licence on conviction had a greater impact on people living in country areas, and did not oppose the removal of the conviction.

Judge Paul Lacava said it was a serious offence.

“Being a police officer is the hardest job on the planet, and having to put with idiots like your client makes it even harder,” he said.

“No doubt the magistrate, in imposing the sentence, gave thought to the imposition of a term of imprisonment.”

Judge Lacava said there was a degree of “double punishment” in the sentence, and agreed to remove the conviction.

The other orders remained in place.