A Berkeley man who copped a four-month jail term for his 17th unlicensed driving charge will appeal the sentence on the grounds it was too severe.
Magistrate Doug Dick yesterday slammed Robert Aherne’s terrible driving record, which included 21 matters in the space of 46 years.
Magistrate Dick recited Aherne’s lengthy and serious traffic history in Wollongong Local Court, before telling him he could have been ‘‘under no illusion’’ as to what would happen to him if he was caught driving again.
He said the court had given Aherne every possible opportunity in the past, from fines and bonds to community service orders and even suspended jail terms; however he continued to flout the law.
The court heard Aherne had twice been charged with dangerous driving, had three counts of drink driving on his record and 17 matters of either driving unlicensed, driving while disqualified or driving with a cancelled licence.
Most recently, Aherne was stopped in May this year while behind the wheel of a car on Northcliffe Drive at Warrawong.
When officers asked him to produce a licence, he replied: ‘‘I don’t have one, I’m disqualified.’’
Aherne’s lawyer, John Gallagher, yesterday said his client had been returning from his part-time work at a local hotel when he was caught.
He said Aherne usually used a motorised scooter to get about, however on this occasion it had a flat tyre and he’d ‘‘succumbed to temptation’’ and opted to get behind the wheel of the car.
Mr Gallagher acknowledged Aherne’s driving record but pleaded for the court to be lenient, saying the 68-year-old had significant health issues that required him to take up to 14 tablets a day.
‘‘He’s asking for a penalty other than full-time custody,’’ Mr Gallagher said.
However, Magistrate Dick refused the request and instead sentenced him to an overall sentence of 18 months jail, with a non-parole period of four months.
Aherne was taken into custody, but immediately lodged a severity appeal against the decision.
He sought release on bail, saying a family member could pay a $500 bond to ensure he turned up at Wollongong District Court when his appeal was next before the court.
But Magistrate Dick refused to release Aherne, citing the high likelihood of him committing further offences if at liberty.
The matter will return to court next Friday.
Robert Aherne’s driving record
1966- dangerous driving
1968- drive while disqualified
1970- disqualified driving
1972- dangerous driving
1975- drink driving + driving unlicensed
1979- drink driving
1982- driving unlicensed
1986- high-range drink driving
1987- disqualified driving
1992- driving unlicensed (x2)
1994- driving unlicensed (x2)
1997- unlicensed driving
1999- driving with a cancelled licence
200- driving with a cancelled licence
2003- unlicensed driving
2004- driving unlicensed
2008- unlicensed driving
2012- driving unlicensed
2013- driving while disqualified