Angry magistrate hits out at new laws as police plan appeal

A SUNSHINE Coast magistrate has expressed disgust that a defendant's not guilty plea would force him to face a bail hearing in Brisbane under new anti-bikie laws.

Michael John Slattery, 23, of Nambour, pleaded guilty to four charges relating to a drunken burn out in a car in front of two police officers.

However, Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan refused to accept all the pleas as she said two of the charges - those of failing to provide a breath specimen and drink-driving - amounted to "double jeopardy".

Slattery also was charged with causing wilful noise and smoke and obstructing police during the incident in Nambour.

In a transcript of the case obtained by The Daily, Ms Callaghan agreed to accept pleas for three charges.

New laws would have forced Slattery to apply for bail for the fourth charge - which could be heard only in Brisbane because of the new legislation that treats bikie gang associates differently.

With that revelation, Ms Callaghan then said that she would accept the pleas on all charges and sentence Slattery.

"So this is what we're reduced to in Queensland?" she asked.

"This is what we're reduced to - people taking pleas of guilty so as to avoid a section of the Bail Act.

"I'm so disgusted. I'll take the plea. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting."

The legal fraternity generally has grappled with the new laws for the past few weeks.

The court heard that upon Slattery's arrest after stepping out of the car on Wednesday, November 6, he admitted to having consumed nine self-mixed rum and colas.

Police said he was unsteady on his feet and smelled strongly of liquor.

However, he declined to submit to a roadside breath test.

He was handed a three-month good behaviour bond and lost his licence for a total 12 months.

Maroochydore Police Prosecutions is appealing the sentence.

The appeal, when heard, will provide a legal test of the new bail application provisions in the Government's controversial anti-bikie laws.

Slattery's lawyer Alicia Thomas noted he had had anger management issues since his mid-teens, and that he felt his medications may no longer be effective.

She said he rarely drank excessively due to the medications.

The appeal of the sentence is unlikely to be heard until early next year.

Documents listing past criminal and driving convictions were tendered as exhibits during the hearing on Thursday.


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