Thursday, February 16, 2012

Driver claims Qld. police bullying people to plead guilty over speeding fines

ONE of the 3000 motorists caught speeding in the Clem7 Tunnel last May has claimed police are "bullying" people into pleading guilty to avoid embarrassment over the controversial fines.

Peter Arnouts is among dozens challenging the fines issued in May after police started enforcing changes to variable speed signs in the tollway.

Although he wanted to plead not guilty because he believed he was in the right, Mr Arnouts said he was "cornered in a room" by two police before the hearing and told he would lose.

"They said they'd reduce the speed on my ticket from 71 to 69 to bring the cost of the fine down from $466 to $333 but only if I pleaded guilty," Mr Arnouts said.

"Then they told me if I went ahead with a not guilty plea, they'd have to bring an expert up from down south which meant I could be liable for costs of $6000. "I felt intimidated, like I was being bullied into it."

Mr Arnouts did as he was told and pleaded guilty but said he had decided to speak out so others would be prepared. "They should know what to expect," he said.

William Burnett also appeared in court this month to fight a Clem7 speeding fine and was also told police would lower the speed to reduce the fine - if he pleaded guilty.

But Mr Burnett said he felt the police prosecutor explained the situation clearly and the decision was left up to him. "She said 'no-one has got off yet and going by the letter of the law they're very unlikely to'," he said.

"She spent a bit of time and told me if I pleaded guilty the magistrate would ask if there was anything I wanted to say, which would give me a chance to say my piece."

The claims follow the release of figures showing police tore up more speeding fines issued in the Clem7 Tunnel due to technical faults, than at any other location.


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