Serial traffic offender wins bid for weekend jail
Serial traffic offender Paul Edward Scheele was so convinced he was destined for jail once more he took the car out for a spin to make sure it was okay for his sick partner to drive.
But the ill-considered decision put the recidivist in legal hot water yet again, with police arresting him for a second time in four months.
The 48-year-old with a "long and entrenched history" of drug use was released from prison on appeal in December, after about three-and-a-half months inside, but will spend his weekends behind bars until early April.
In reasons published on Tuesday the ACT Supreme Court upheld Scheele's challenge against his sentence on two charges of driving while disqualified.
Justice Richard Refshauge said sentencing magistrate Bernadette Boss failed to consider whether the defendant was suitable for periodic detention.
Scheele was originally sentenced to nine months in prison and disqualified from holding a licence for three years.
He was also hit with fines totalling $1150 for driving uninsured and unregistered vehicles, as well as using a numberplate issued to another vehicle.
The defendant, who was diagnosed with depression after witnessing two homicides while serving jail sentences, already had 57 convictions including "many traffic offences" when police saw him driving through Fyshwick last May with no number plates.
At the time he was apparently disqualified from holding a licence until 2018, although the judge noted his criminal record didn't confirm the ban.
When pulled over Scheele told police he was driving "to get smokes from the servo".
In August he was on bail for the first offence, with conditions not to get behind the wheel, when police again saw driving through Narrabundah.
After first driving away from police Scheele pulled over and told the officers he was "making sure the car was right for his sick partner as he was expecting to go to jail".
Justice Refshauge said the offending was contumacious and Scheele "deliberately flouted the prohibition", even though the second crime was not committed "completely for his own convenience".
A pre-sentence report prepared for the ACT Magistrates Court sentencing labelled Scheele unsuitable for weekend jail because of his childcare obligations.
"There is something curious about finding that periodic detention is unsuitable for an offender because of childcare obligations, leaving the court to impose full-time custody which must interfere even more seriously with such obligations," Justice Refshauge said.
But the report's author subsequently told Dr Boss the defendant's partner could look after their child on weekends, prompting her to retract the first assessment.
"In my view it can be said that Her Honour [Dr Boss] erred in failing to address the question of whether a term of imprisonment must be served by periodic detention," the judge wrote.
The judge took into account the hardship faced by Scheele's family in re-sentencing the defendant.
The man's fines have also been paid off as time spent in custody.