Bikers beat fine after 'reckless' police operation
Police encouraged a group of motorcyclists to break the law, by forcing them to cross double lines, then fined them for it.PT3M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2uveo 620 349 October 3, 2013
Police who deliberately baited motorcyclists to break the law then fined them have been exposed in a recent court case, leading to a magistrate describing the police as ''reckless''.
The finding could pave the way for scores of other riders caught using similar tactics to reclaim demerit points and fines.
The operation featured in the case took place on September 16 and 23 last year in a section of the Old Pacific Highway between Mount White and Brooklyn. The Ku-ring-gai highway patrol issued 68 tickets, all to motorbike riders.
Brothers Rod and James Ward were booked for crossing the road's double dividing lines. They were each fined $298 and lost three points. James said they had been on a casual ride when, ''in a flurry of dust and gravel'', a grey SUV pulled out in front of them, then sped up and slowed down several times. ''People were moving around inside the vehicle and there was a commotion going on in there and we didn't really know what was going on,'' he said. ''I thought initially it was some tourists who had been lost.''
He said the vehicle moved to the left ''as if to beckon us past'' so they overtook the SUV - an unmarked police car - by crossing to the wrong side of the road.
From inside the SUV, officers filmed the riders then radioed a patrol car down the road with their licence plate details.
The brothers described the incident as a case of police ''entrapment'' and challenged the fines in court, along with three other riders booked for the same offence.
While the defence of ''entrapment'' does not exist in Australia, their barrister argued the police acted improperly and that any evidence against the riders was inadmissible. The riders told the court they felt safer overtaking the undercover vehicle than following it as it veered across the lane. The officers involved denied the undercover vehicle was driven unsafely.
Magistrate Eve Wynhausen disagreed, describing their driving as ''erratic'' and said it had caused each of the riders to break the law. ''I am satisfied on the evidence that the driving had some influence on the actions of the defendants and that … they would not have committed the offences were it not for the way the covert vehicle was being driven on both those days.''
The case against the riders was dismissed. Ms Wynhausen criticised senior officers involved, saying their behaviour fell ''far short'' of the NSW Police Code of Conduct and Ethics.
A police statement said a standard review would be conducted into the failed court case and police would continue to target dangerous driver behaviour.
The brothers said they had been contacted by dozens of riders who had also been booked.