High-powered friends show support
ARMED with top references from State Ballina MP Don Page and Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader, and with a background of good community work, a Ballina businessman has received an eight-month cut in his driver’s licence disqualification for drink-driving.
Motel owner Ralph Matthews, 45, lodged a severity appeal in the Lismore District Court over his two-year disqualification for a high-range PCA offence.
He was convicted and fined $2000 in Ballina Local Court last December 17 after recording a blood/alcohol reading of 0.170.
With his reading more than three times the legal limit, Matthews had pleaded guilty to drink-driving at 9.10pm on October 23 last year.
Magistrate Kim Pogson also disqualified Matthews from driving for two years until October 22, 2011.
At the time Matthews also pleaded guilty to driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle – a Toyota Hilux.
Police facts stated Matthews was stopped at an RBT and when told to blow into the alcolizer tube he instead counted to 10.
Police said he was given ‘a further six opportunities’ to blow into the alcolizer, but continued to count from one to 10 on each occasion.
When he finally blew into the alcolizer it returned a positive reading.
Traffic records before the court showed Matthews had as many as 10 speeding offences.
In the District Court appeal last week, lawyer Ralph James said the public figures who had supplied the references for Matthews did so knowing court procedures were open to the public.
He said their references were done out ‘of genuine support’ for his client.
“All references speak of his good community support,” Mr James said.
Judge Black dismissed the severity appeal and instead varied the magistrate’s penalties. He disqualified Matthews from driving for 16 months – an eight-month cut in the previous sentence.
Matthews will be back on the road again in late February 2011.