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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Frail man sent to jail

Magistrate says law requires him to imprison 73-year-old with history of driving offences.

DARREN LINTON July 30, 2014 3:04am

A Shepparton man, 73, who walks with the aid of a walking stick has been jailed for three months.

Magistrate John O’Callaghan said he had no choice but to follow the law after William Wallace, of Midland Hwy, Shepparton pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, driving an unregistered vehicle and giving police a false name.

‘‘I very much don’t want to send someone of your age to prison, but I have to. I don’t like to send a frail 73-year-old to jail, but you give me no option,’’ Mr O’Callaghan said.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Sean Walsh told Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Monday automatic number plate recognition technology detected Wallace driving in Pearce St, Shepparton on April 30.

He said the vehicle was unregistered and displaying trade plates belonging to a panel shop, and William Wallace stated his name as John Wallace.

A photograph was taken and later used to establish his identity and that he had been disqualified from driving for three years in November last year after pleading guilty to a fifth charge of drink-driving or refusing a random breath test. Wallace was also given a three-month suspended jail term, which he seemed surprised to learn could now be imposed because of the subsequent offending.

‘‘Do you know that?’’ Mr O’Callaghan asked.

‘‘No,’’ Wallace said.

The case was stood down for Wallace to get some legal advice and several hours later duty lawyer Emma King presented made a plea for leniency on the basis that prison would be more onerous because of age and health.

She told the court his wife had been admitted to a nursing home suffering dementia three years ago and he visited her once a week.

She said Wallace was offered a job to pick up the car and ‘‘foolishly decided to do it’’.

Mr O’Callaghan said he could only avoid reinstating the suspended jail term under exceptional circumstances and there were none.

‘‘You knew what you were doing,’’ he said.

Wallace was also fined $1000.

He was able to remain in the court complex to discuss lodging an immediate appeal, which would have kept him out of custody, but the court was later advised he would not appeal.

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