A serial disqualified driver jailed last month for his latest turn behind the wheel was yesterday allowed to return home after Wollongong District Court judge Paul Conlon agreed to suspend the remainder of his prison term.
Jason William Blackley, 39, was sentenced to nine months’ prison in Wollongong Local Court in October after he pleaded guilty to driving with a disqualified licence on September 30.
At the time, the court heard Blackley was banned from driving until 2065, and had notched up at least 14 disqualified driving charges.
Fronting the District Court yesterday, Blackley tearfully begged Judge Conlon to suspend the sentence and allow him to return home to his son.
The court heard Blackley had spent almost half his life in prison as a result of various traffic and criminal convictions, but had recently tried to turn his life around and was working as a mechanic and looking after his son.
He said on the day of the offence he had been working on an engine when it fell on his foot, crushing his toe.
Blackley admitted to driving his car to Wollongong Hospital for treatment, saying he had had a lapse in common sense.
He was nabbed by police at a random breath test site on his return journey.
‘‘I told them straight away I didn’t have a licence,’’ he told the court.
When asked why he owned a car when he knew he wasn’t allowed to drive, Blackley said he had purchased the vehicle cheaply with plans to do it up and sell it for a profit.
Judge Conlon accepted Blackley’s reason for being behind the wheel, and said he did not believe the Albion Park Rail man’s driving was a case of ‘‘thumbing his nose at the law’’.
‘‘I get the feeling it was a case of circumstance – this was not the type of situation in which he jumped in the car and just drove,’’ Judge Conlon said.
He also said Blackley appeared quite ‘‘institutionalised’’ from his stints in prison, acknowledged he had trouble adjusting to the world outside prison and agreed he needed help from family and friends, some of whom were in court yesterday to support him.
‘‘On the face of it when you see his [Blackley’s] record, you say this has to be dealt with by way of a sentence, but I can see there’s a lot more behind this,’’ he said.
Judge Conlon agreed to suspend the remaining eight months of Blackley’s prison term, but warned him the ‘‘ball is in your court’’, saying if he drove again he would end up in jail.
His disqualification period was extended for a further two years until 2067.
Blackley will be 91 years old when he is eventually eligible to apply for a licence again.