A REDAN man who had been caught driving unlicensed more than 20 times avoided jail yesterday, on grounds he was finally starting to get his life back in order.
Timothy McDonald, 44, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to one charge of driving while disqualified.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Ivan Blomeley told the court that on August 7 last year, McDonald was intercepted by police on Elsworth Street.
He was driving an unregistered car with false number plates and had never held a Victorian driver’s licence.
The court heard McDonald had previously been caught with false plates at least 12 times and had been convicted of unlicensed driving and driving an unregistered car at least 20 times each.
Defence lawyer Mike Wardell said his client had not been able to obtain a driver’s licence due to his driving history and was coming clean from drugs and alcohol after years of substance abuse.
He said McDonald had been sentenced to more than eight years of combined jail time throughout his life.
“He’s had a revolving door in terms of imprisonment through nobody’s fault but his own,” said Mr Wardell.
“He purchased the car in the belief he needed somewhere to live and a car was as good a place as any.
“There is a massive difference between the Tim McDonald of 12 months ago and the Tim McDonald we have here today.”
Even police prosecutor Senior Constable Ivan Blomeley said McDonald appeared to be trying to get his life back in order.
McDonald sat crying in the court throughout the hearing.
“In 16 years as a policeman this is the best I’ve seen Tim McDonald,” he said.
Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said McDonald had escaped imprisonment by a “very narrow margin”.
“There was something quite impassioned about what he (Mr Wardell) said today,” she said.
“Don’t disappoint all of us by getting behind the wheel of a car again.”
McDonald was fined $300 and received a one-month prison sentence, suspended for six months.