68-y-o driver fined $3400 over crash

A 68-year-old man who was driving 62km/h over the speed limit in the rain when he crashed his car earlier this year has been fined more than $3000.

The Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Thursday heard Morris Birchall was driving back from the Halls Gap Zoo when he crashed into the guardrail on the Western Highway near Remembrance Drive. Birchall suffered no injuries and had no alcohol on his breath.

An in-car video captured Birchall overtaking 17 cars and two trucks along the highway with his windscreen wipers on the fastest speed.

The court heard he overtook a car shortly before crashing. The video also detected Birchall travelling at 172km/h when he crashed.

He told police he had little recollection of any of the journey. Birchall pleaded guilty to one count each of driving at a dangerous speed and careless driving.

His lawyer, David Taminika, told the court his client believed he may have blacked out prior to crashing.

But he said while tests showed Birchall had sleep apnoea, it did not explain the accident. He said it was also unknown why he was driving so fast.

Magistrate Andrew Capell told Birchall he was lucky the matter was being heard in the magistrates court and not a higher jurisdiction.

“… you’re lucky to be alive and you’re lucky no one was hurt,” he said.

“This is an extremely serious matter.”

He convicted and fined Birchall $3000 on the speeding charge and $400 for the careless driving. He also lost his licence for two years.

Explosives found

A Golden Point man who kept homemade explosives in his bed has been fined.

The Ballarat Magistrates’ Court heard police executed a search warrant at Paul Rhodes’ Peake Street address in July and found two improvised explosives in his bedroom.

The court heard police seen what they originally thought was a deodorant can under Rhodes blanket, but soon realised it was a butane can strapped to a 12-gauge shotgun shell with a protruding firework. 

He was on bail at the time.

Rhodes’ lawyer said his client was open and frank with police, telling them he was kept the explosive devises because he was in fear of enemies he had made.

He said Rhodes had complied well with the credit bail program and was doing everything to rehabilitate himself. Rhodes was fined a total of $1800 on all four charges.