Magistrate would have imposed less time off the road had the legislation allowed

A BLAYNEY man convicted of drink-driving after being involved in a collision earlier this year has been put off the road for six months.

But the matter involving Nicholas John Wilcox, 34, of Maple Crescent, Blayney, who appeared before magistrate Michael Allen in Bathurst Local Court on Monday, highlighted an inability to use discretion in sentencing, with Mr Allen saying if the legislation allowed him to do so, he would have imposed less than the minimum period of disqualification.

The court heard how Wilcox, the licensee of the Exchange Hotel in Blayney, was heavily engaged in the local community, sponsoring many of the township’s sporting clubs, as well as being involved in fundraising ventures supporting children’s cancer charities.

The court also heard that Wilcox is a great supporter of local Anzac Day events, providing everything from the music for the march to breakfast for ex-servicemen after the event.

In references tendered to the court, ex-servicemen spoke highly of Wilcox’s charity work, including supporting Can Assist and the Leukaemia Foundation.

Local sporting groups also tendered references for him, as did a former Australian Federal Police officer, all of whom spoke about how the offence was out of character for such a “strong community leader”.

The court heard how in the past two years Wilcox had lost a number of family members to cancer, including his mother, to whom he was very close, and on the day he was caught drink-driving, things had “become too much”.

His solicitor Trish Arden said on the day of the incident, Wilcox was unable to cope and was “not thinking” when he drove from the hotel after drinking.

At around 9pm on January 5, Wilcox was involved in a collision after failing to give way at the corner of Osman Street and Church Street. Police attended, he was arrested and a subsequent breath analysis recorded 0.106.

Ms Arden asked Mr Allen to consider a Section 10 dismissal, given her client’s outstanding community involvement and the fact he had been through a lot with the death of family members.

Mr Allen refused the request, saying a conviction was warranted because a collision had occurred.

He said despite Wilcox’s outstanding engagement with his local community, it was important that a message of general deterrence was sent to the community,

However, Mr Allen added that had the legislation allowed him the discretion to give a lesser period of disqualification, he would “have exercised that discretion”.

Unable to do so, he imposed the minimum disqualification period, of six months, with Section 225 of the Roads and Transport Act to apply.