Police ‘conspiracy’ in helmet camera case

Tony Deane fined for a helmet camera

Police prosecutors have been accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over a helmet camera fine that has now been thrown out of court.

They have also been accused of “despicable” behaviour, lack of transparency and misdirection of the court. The NSW Police have rejected the allegations.

It all started when Coffs Harbour rider Tony Deane was fined $311 and three demerit points for wearing a non-compliant helmet on October 25, 2014. He decided to challenge the fine. He was represented by a pro bono lawyer and backed by the Australian Motorcycle Council (AMC).

Tony says police prosecutions rang him in July to say they were dropping the charges and he didn’t need to attend court.

A week before the case, the lawyer also rang the police and was told it was being withdrawn. However, the case was still listed for hearing so he attended court.

“My solicitor still showed up, the prosecution admitted no evidence and the charges were completely dropped,” Tony says on his Facebook page.

“What a total waste of the solicitor’s and the court’s time and money.”

ALLEGATIONS

However, AMC spokesman Guy Stanford and rider advocate Wayne Carruthers believe the police may be guilty of something more sinister.

“I think the police could have handled this matter with more transparency,” says Guy.

“They rang the bloke to say they were withdrawing the charge. No withdrawal notice arrived. One week out, the lawyers rang the police and were told it was being withdrawn.

“The lawyer found that the case was still listed for hearing so he appeared on the day. It was only withdrawn by the prosecutor in session of the court after they sighted the lawyer.

“Had the lawyer not shown up, the bloke would have been convicted after being misdirected to not appear. Despicable.”

Wayne Carruthers helped draft helmet petition and created helmet laws website
Wayne Carruthers accuses the police of a conspiracy

Rider advocate Wayne Carruthers, who started an online petition for sensible helmet standards, believes it is a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

“The NSW Police dropped the charge at the last second when Tony’s lawyer dropped in on them unexpectedly whilst they were presenting the case in court after they had advised the offender the matter had been dropped,” he says.

“So basically they tell the rider the case is withdrawn and then either by administrative error or design, they proceed in the court without the rider or his legal rep present. The legal rep wanders into the court presumably re another matter and discovers what is happening and they drop it.

“Now if they deliberately told the rider it was dropped and then proceeded with it, then it appears to be conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.”

POLICE REPLY

The NSW Police issued this email statement to reject the allegations: “The original Traffic Infringement Notice was issued by an officer attached to Traffic and Highway Patrol Command. Following representation, a decision was made the Commander for the matter to be withdrawn. The Police Prosecutor contacted the driver (Mr Deane) on Friday 12 June 2015 to advise him the matter would be withdrawn. On the 4 August 2015 the matter was mentioned at Kempsey Local Court solely for the purpose of withdrawing the matter.

WORDS OF WARNING

Chris Burns of the AMC says it’s salutary lesson to riders: “if it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t count.”

Our legal expert, Jim Feehley, also warns that the withdrawal of the charges does not create a legal precedent for any other similar charges as there was no evidence provided to the court to substantiate a criminal charge.

This follows the recent case of Victoria Police withdrawing a fine for Luke Johnson over a “non-compliant” tinted visor without providing a reason.

Luke Johnson fined for a tinted helmet visor
Luke Johnson fined for a tinted visor

Jim warns that neither the case of the helmet camera fine nor the tinted visor offence being waived has any legal precedence for other riders such as Max Lichenbaum who was fined by Victorian police on March 22, 2014.

His case was adjourned for the third time in the Frankston Magistrates Court in July for a new hearing date of September 16, 2015.

Defence lawyer Malcolm Cumming, principal of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, believes their case will succeed against the $289 fine and three demerit points for “failure to wear an approved helmet”.

FIX THE LAWS

The AMC is now calling for the “extremely complex” Australian Design Rules on helmets to be reviewed by state and federal governments.

AMC spokesman Guy Stanford says there is no reason a camera or communications device couldn’t be attached to a helmet so long as the helmet did not need to be modified to accept the attachment.

“Adding an accessory to your helmet doesn’t change the structural integrity – if the accessory is removed, the helmet is the same as when supplied,” he says.

Guy says the “extremely complex” laws are compounded by differing police interpretations in each state.

Helmet camera - road rules

While NSW and Victorian police have issued fines for helmet cameras and tinted visors, they don’t seem to be a problem in other states. In Queensland, the former Police Minister actually encouraged cyclists to wear helmet cameras to collect evidence in case of a crash.

Wayne says it is time for a full review of all camera/visor tickets and “a refund to all riders who have taken the easy way out and paid the tickets plus restoration of the points”.

He says there is still the case of a Canberra couple charged over a helmet camera that is before the courts on the NSW North Coast.

He urges that anyone fined for an illegal visor or wearing a camera on their helmet should fight the fine.

“The simple fact is there are no provisions in any of the state regulations which empower police to determine that a helmet with a valid approval label/sticker is no longer compliant,” he says.

“No infringement notice for either a visor or camera should be paid in any state as they are improperly issued.”

15 Comments

  1. Are the police liable for lawyer costs associated for defending yourself in court if the case is dismissed or lost by the prosecution?
    Perhaps the AMC or a group need to take the police to court for wasting tax payers money and becoming a public nuisance for these cases?
    There needs to be much more sensible law enforcement and an end to power trips or revenue generating for petty issues. Police should promote general safety and common sense if they want any respect from the public.

    I find it hard to believe as a society we pay for police to provide a degree of public safety and public order – and we have to deal these stupid issues.

    There needs to be more accountability.

    D

  2. Over here in the UK, the procedure does seem to be, that the prosecuting solicitor turns up and at least in my speeding case, when I was stood in the dock/witness stand, they did indeed just say ‘the crown is not presenting any evidence at this time’. The Judge told me this meant I was free to go, the prosecution would not be proceeding.

    It’s pretty arcane – obvs it gives the prosecuting lawyer the chance to look and see if there’s an actual person opposing him/her, or just words on paper, then elect to not present the case, or press ahead maybe if they see a chance.

    I challenged everything – but usually in speeding, it’s the basic calibration that was not carried out, that frightens them off as it’s meant to be done on speed-guns every time. That time, I got off but it took hours of preparation etc.

    On helmets and related, my brother in Scotland says they do prosecute sometimes if they see you wearing sunglasses at night inside the helmet. I avoided all the issues by using a 30 quid ‘fog city’ do-everything insert, it’s a double-glazing idea for the visor, but also has photo-reactive tinting so it’s never ‘wrong’. Just as I think the sun’s bright, it reacts to cut the glare, and if you want unfettered viewing, you just flip up the visor.

    There, all that and I didn’t even mention cricket – oh damn & blast it. Pic is of me and bro’s bikes in Lake District north of England this June, BMW 800 of his, old style Yamaha Diversion/Seca II aircooled 600 of mine.

      1. Anyone with children has very mixed feelings about speeding enforcement – one guy from Northampton who was not known for his tolerant nature, overheard lots of talk of exploits of a dispatch rider group. He said he liked us well enough, but with 6 kids, if we ever went through his town like that, he’d kill us. He wasn’t joking, and we sobered up a bit.

        But, with cameras on helmets – it’s more like the police don’t like being watched themselves, although it could be argued having a camera encourages certain off-the-wall behaviour in some people? Me and my bro in the Lake District, we were making video too, but I pointed out to him, beware of that notion you might get, to show off, it gets pretty strong sometimes.

        C***ket, I know nothing about it, for all I know you guys won and the English just edited the footage carefully. You know the worst thing? If they don’t win again for ages, we’ll be hearing about the famous win of ’15 for decades – like every soccer World Cup, every single one, 1066 gets trotted out sorry 1966, it was half a century ago, for goodness sake. It’s a quad-annual torture.

  3. I ALWAYS use helmet camera (Drift Steath 2) when I ride my bike, even if I need to go for a minute to buy something in a store. My friend had a situation, in which a footage from such a camera helped him in struggles with an insurance company after an accident. Without it he wouldn’t have got any money.

  4. Funny with road racing which is controlled by motorcycling Australia ( the governing body of the sport) we are only allowed to use cameras if they are mounted to our helmets not the bike

  5. If you blokes knew anything all all about the law and procedure in NSW you would know that (a) charges are commonly withdrawn after “representations” are made and (b) once laid, charges have to be finalised in some way by a court. The cops don’t just rip up the ticket and it all goes away. A magistrate has to dismiss it.

    Get over yourselves. And no, I’m not a cop, but I sure as hell know what I’m talking about.

    Get back on your bikes and go for a ride. Stop crapping on about stuff you don’t have a clue about.

  6. I am copping the same thing with my current court case. I have had it adjourned 11 times now and it is set for hearing for the second time on 28th Sep.
    I was caught out by the QPS Prosecution when in March 2015 a trial date was set for April 14th 2015.
    Myself, my witness and my lawyer arrived only to find that the case was bought forward a week for mention as the Prosecution wanted to adjourn again. In having the mention the week before, without myself or my lawyer present, a warrant was issued for my arrest for failing to appear.
    When we all turned up on the set trial date we were told it was adjourned for a further 2 weeks.
    My lawyer corrected the warrant for failing to appear, it appears the QPS Prosecution had forgotten to advise my lawyer or myself of the new mention date a week earlier, thus, putting me in jeopardy of being arrested.
    The whole QLD judicial system is in turmoil thanks to the legislation changes made by the previous LNP GOV.
    For the record, I have attended court on 19 occasions in the last 2 years and haven’t been convicted of anything as of yet.

  7. Standard police action.

    Their corruption is endless and internally encouraged, however without a decent watchdog for them we will continue seeing the police bully and corrupt the course of justice for their own financial gain.

  8. If you are so stupid to believe some bureaucrat’s spoken word then you deserve to get … over by them in a BIG way. ANY interaction you have with a parasitic bureaucrat MUST be on paper that has letter head and is signed by a appointed representative. This way a document is created and thus can be attributed legal standing.

  9. Like any form of authority, the Police (of any State or Country) will never admit they’re wrong until a Courts tells them so.

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