The one that got away

By Alex Easton

IN 50 years behind the wheel, Margaret Liversage has chauffeured a Spanish princess, been a decoy driver for a famous gymnast trying to escape paparazzi, and done a solo road trip across southern Europe.

But the infamous St Helena speed camera nearly interrupted the Tweed Heads resident's driving career yesterday when she pleaded guilty in Mullumbimby Local Court to doing 103km/h past the 60km/h-zone camera in May.

Ms Liversage's court case came as more than 30 people lined up to fight fines from the same camera.

She was facing a fine of up to $2200 and the loss of her licence for three months.

But Magistrate Jeff Linden had other ideas, dismissing the charge and leaving Ms Liversage free to go without any fines and with her licence intact.

Mr Linden told Ms Liversage, who had no legal representation, that he had to take entire driving history into account when considering sentence; and that history said Ms Liversage was a motorist who deserved to keep her licence.

"Given the position where this occurred and the fact that if there's a conviction there's an automatic disqualification, which in my view is totally unjustified, this matter is dismissed," he said.

Ms Liversage said she was unfamiliar with the new speed zone and camera on St Helena the day she drove past it.

She said she was passing trucks at the time and her attention was focused on the road and getting safely past the trucks not on her speedo or the signs by the road.

By the time she was past them and saw the signs and the camera it was too late.

Ms Liversage said she was taught to drive by her father when she was 13 and got her licence when she turned 17.

She regularly drove long distances to visit family as far away as Charters Towers and, during the Sydney Olympics in 2000, had been part of a squad of volunteers who drove athletes and dignitaries, such as the previously-mentioned princess and the gymnast.

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