Banned, disqualified, forbidden, off limits, illegal.
No matter which of these words Jason Blackley hears, the message never seems to sink in for Wollongong’s serial illegal driver.
The Albion Park panel beater, who is arguably one of the worst driver’s in the state, if not the nation, has been caught behind the wheel without a valid licence a whopping 27 times in the past 17 years.
He is banned from holding a licence until 2088 and has spent so much time in prison for his serial driving offences that he feels more comfortable with life on the inside than out.
He’s been given multiple chances: a relieving magistrate in Wollongong for the day took pity on Blackley when sentencing him on his 26th drive while disqualified charge one day last November, handing him an eight-month suspended prison term in lieu of full time jail.
However, Blackley had served less than 30 days of that sentence when he was caught making a midnight dash for petrol on December 3.
A statement of facts written by arresting police said Blackley pulled his white Holden Commodore into the Coles Express service station in Haywards Bay just after 12am and filled it with $17.20 worth of premium fuel, however his debit card was declined when he went to pay.
Blackley then left the card with the operator in lieu of payment.
Court documents reveal Blackley was wearing a high visibility orange shirt at the time and was clearly visible on the service station’s CCTV footage.
Police were subsequently notified and arrested Blackley at a home in Koonawarra two days later.
He eventually confessed to being behind the wheel and was given a 12-month jail sentence with an 8-month non-parole period.
Blackley promptly lodged an appeal against the decision, which was heard in Wollongong District Court on Thursday before Judge Warwick Hunt.
Blackley’s Legal Aid lawyer, David Ryan, said his client was at serious risk of institutionalisation, and that it was in the public interest to extend his time on parole so he could reintegrate into the community.
Judge Hunt agreed, reducing the non-parole period to six months and two weeks, making Blackley eligible for release this Sunday.