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Victorian speed laser gunHighway Patrol police have issued two men with heavy fines after they were caught with radar detectors in their vehicles.

The devices were found when officers stopped a Singleton man on the Putty Road and a man from Manilla, near Tamworth, on the New England Highway at Muswellbrook.

The Singleton man is alleged to have told police he purchased the radar detector on the internet from the United States.

Northern Region Traffic Coordinator, Acting Senior Sergeant, Glenn Trubody says the offence carries hefty penalties.

“Just not use, it’s even to carry a speed evasion article or a radar detector as most people know them,” he said.

“Particularly country police do have the devices fitted to their vehicles that are capable of detecting these radar detectors.

“$1346 is the current infringement penalty for it and nine demerit points off your licence.”

Obviously the guy wasn’t using a stealth radar detector (one that cannot be detected by the police)

POLICE Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s son was one of five people who suffered serious burns in an alleged drug lab explosion in Carlisle yesterday.

Mr O’Callaghan said his son Russell, 29, received head, shoulder and arm injuries in the explosion.

He said he had not yet visited his son in Royal Perth Hospital. He said he would be working as normal and would not be taking time off over the incident.

Mr O’Callaghan said he had attempted to contact his son yesterday.

“I am not at this stage able to speak to him (Russell),” Mr O’Callaghan told a packed media conference this morning.

“These matters are obviously very distressing for the families involved but I have a duty to come here and talk about this issue publically this morning.

“At this stage there is an inquiry being conducted into the matter and that inquiry is being overseen by a senior police officer to avoid any suggestion that the inquiry will not be attended to properly.

“I have not asked for the details of the inquiry…and I will remain at some distance from the (inquiry) process.” Mr O’Callaghan said he had only “occasional” contact with his son.

“His life has taken a bit of a tragic path unfortunately…I understand from speaking to other family members last night that he has recently been suffering from a depressive illness and he was due to seek assistance from a doctor this week for that illness,” he said. Mr O’Callaghan said he does not know why his son was at the house at the time of the explosion as he does not live at the property.

Police said the explosion happened just after 5pm in Bishopsgate Street. It was allegedly caused by an illegal drug lab. Police Inspector Trevor Davis said five adults were taken to hospital with serious burns. “One man is in a critical condition, while one woman and three other men are in stable conditions,” he said.

“Although initial reports indicated that children were injured, this was not the case. A three-year-old and a four-year-old were near the explosion but were not hurt.” Police said this morning that a 26-year-old man injured in the explosion was in a critical condition. A 26-year-old woman, a 29-year-old man and two 28-year-old men were all in a stable condition in hospital.

A FESA spokesman said the explosion caused about $300,000 damage to the home.

The RAC calls for speeding fines to be doubled during holiday periods

According to an independent review, DOUBLE-DEMERIT penalties in Western Australia have NOT cut road deaths.

In fact the figures show fatal car crashes have jumped almost 50 per cent on holidays and long weekends since double-demerit points came into force in 2002.

The revelations have sparked calls from the RAC for fines – not just demerit points – to be doubled to send motorists a “sharp message”.

That would mean the fine for not wearing a seat belt would jump from $500 to $1000 and the penalty for exceeding the speed limit by 15km/h would rise from $150 to $300 during double-demerit periods.

A report by independent researcher Synovate showed the average number of fatal crashes during double-demerit times was 0.71 a day in 2008 compared with 0.48 a day in 2002 – an increase of 48 per cent.

The report also showed the average number of crashes causing injury during double-demerit periods had increased by nearly two a day between 2004 and 2008, rising from 15.31 to 17.02.

WA has about 40 double-demerit days each year, including the Easter and Christmas breaks.

RAC spokesman Matt Brown said stiffer penalties should be considered to reinforce the impact of double demerits.

“We think the Government should look at whether financial penalties should be doubled on holiday periods as well, to send an even sharper message to people,” he said.

“These are the most dangerous times on our roads and you have to accept a higher responsibility to act safely during those times.”

Mr Brown said more cars on the road at holiday time had contributed to the increasing toll, but he called for a review of the demerits policy to ensure the scheme was having an impact.

“The double-demerits system has a good awareness level and strong support in the community, but that doesn’t mean the system we introduced all those years ago doesn’t need to evolve,” he said.

Mr Brown also wants double demerits for drivers using mobile phones without a hands-free set. Currently only speeding, drink-driving and seatbelt offences attract double demerits.

Opposition road safety spokeswoman Margaret Quirk agreed stiffer fines and penalties should be considered, but Police Minister Rob Johnson said existing double-demerits legislation was reducing the total number of crashes on WA roads. He said the Government had no plans to double fines.

Office of Road Safety executive director Iain Cameron said the increase in holiday fatalities between 2001and 2008 was significantly lower than fatal crashes in non-holiday periods.

INDEPENDENT MP Bob Such is thousands of dollars out of pocket after losing a court battle against a speeding fine.

The long-serving MP and former Liberal Cabinet minister had challenged the accuracy of hand held laser guns in the Adelaide Magistrates Court after police detected him travelling at 69km/h in a 50km/h zone at Aberfoyle Park in January 2008.

Dr Such went to trial, telling the court he was not speeding and questioning other errors made by the motorbike officer, Constable Gregory Thompson, who issued a $300 fine.

Today, Magistrate Joanne Tracy found “the laser was operated and read correctly” and therefore, Dr Such was guilty of speeding.

She found Dr Such had not proved the laser was inaccurate.

The court heard he had no previous convictions for speeding.

She ordered Dr Such pay the original fine, plus prosecution trial and hearing costs totalling $1020. He was also ordered to pay court costs and a victims of crime levy.

Dr Such – who has represented the southern suburbs electorate of Fisher since 1989 – has previously said the cost of preparing a defence was about $10,000.

He had said he was fighting the fine because “you cannot put a price on integrity”.

During the trial, Dr Such had sought a court order for independent testing of the police laser gun, which was refused.

Isn’t that simply disgusting? If you can’t seek an independant test of the police laser guns, how can you possibly defend your innocence in court? This is how bad the system has become – and proves how bad they want to keep their revenue raising cash register’s flaws a secret.

Outside court, a surprised Michael Woods, for Dr Such, said the finding would be appealed to the Supreme Court.

He said the ruling would affect ordinary members of the public who could not afford to contest a fine.

“`There’s a lot of members of the public that are left in a similar position where the cost of fighting these matters is ridiculous and its outweighed with the weight against the accused,” Mr Woods said.

“It’s almost got to the position where it’s a reversal of the onus of proof and that’s what scares the poor members of the public off on these sort of matters because you can’t afford to fight it.”

He said he found it surprising the police would not hand over the laser “that they so cherish” for independent testing.

“I would have thought that in this day and age we could be more open about that.”

In a call that some would describe as stating the bleeding obvious, Victoria’s State Opposition Roads Spokesperson Terry Mulder has claimed that the Victorian Government is using its mobile speed camera network as little more than a revenue-raising program.

Referring to figures obtained through the Freedom Of Information Act, Mr Mulder said that around 150,225 motorists had been caught speeding by mobile cameras in the first three months of this year, compared to 138,191 for the same period last year.

The figures also showed that fines issued by officers on the road had dropped eight percent compared to the first quarter of 2009, and fines from fixed speed cameras had dropped by three percent.

Mr Mulder singled out the South-West, where mobile speed camera fines increased from 2990 in the first quarter of 2009, to 3699 in the same period this year.

“Everyone knows that the number of police officers in the south-west is below satisfactory levels so there has been less on-the-spot fines issued and more of this underhanded form of speed monitoring,” Mr Mulder told News Ltd.

Mr Mulder said that the Victorian Government has likely put pressure on mobile speed camera operators to make up the difference, particularly with the end of the financial year in sight.
Figures Obtained by the Victorian State Opposition have revealed that revenue from speeding fines has risen dramatically over past year, with most fines being issued in Melbourne’s suburbs.

Around 312,500 fines were issued betwen April and June this year, a 21 percent increase over the same period in 2008. Most of the speeders were caught in the  Boroondara, Monash and Whitehorse council areas.

Detections from fixed speed cameras over the same period jumped by 45 percent.

The inner suburbs of Fitzroy, Prahran and Richmond have also become speed camera hotspots, while the Stonnington and Yarra council areas have seen a 221 percent surge in speeding fines.

With the infringements issued between April and June worth $36 million to the State Government and total speeding fine revenue expected to top $437 million this year (up from last year’s $397 million), the Opposition says the latest figures prove speed cameras are being used for revenue raising.

However, Acting Superintendent Steve Frost from Victoria Police’s Traffic Camera Office said the use of speed cameras was a viable deterrent against speeding.

“Speed enforcement initiatives are underpinned by strong evidence and are primarily directed at reducing road trauma, rather than raising revenue,” Supt Frost said.

“Speed is one of our biggest killers and can easily be avoided with common sense and care.

“Speeding fines are a voluntary contribution, if you abide by the speed limit you have nothing to worry about.”

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