A criminal's recent application for a driver's licence has alerted ACT authorities to the fact they forgot for nearly 16 years that the Canberra man was walking free while he appealed against a jail sentence.
The prison term Gary John Turner was fighting has now been quashed on account of the lengthy delay and his rehabilitation.
Turner, 60, was sentenced in 2002 to two years and three months behind bars after pleading guilty to several offences linked to a police pursuit. He was also fined and disqualified from holding a driver's licence.
He was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle in Ainslie on June 1 that year, while unlicensed and above the legal alcohol limit. Police tried to pull him over and a chase that ensued, only ending when Turner and his passenger fell off the motorcycle.
Turner, who was 42 at the time of the offences, quickly appealed against the severity of the sentence imposed by then-magistrate Michael Somes.
The case ended up in front of then-ACT Supreme Court chief justice Terence Higgins, who released Turner on bail pending the outcome of the appeal. Turner had already served about one month behind bars.
By August 2004, with the appeal still in motion, it became apparent that Turner was not living at the address required by his bail conditions.
As a result, Mr Higgins granted leave allowing a warrant to be issued for Turner's arrest.
But at that point, the case simply fell off the radar.
"It appears that no warrant was ever [produced] by the Director of Public Prosecutions for execution," Acting Justice David Robinson said in a judgment handed down this week.
"No further action appears to have been taken."
The case only resurfaced when Turner recently applied to the ACT Road Transport Authority for a driver's licence.
"Apparently, this has brought to the attention of the authorities what could be termed 'unfinished business'," Acting Justice Robinson said.
Turner's case was ultimately listed before Acting Justice Robinson on Monday, nearly 16 years after the matter was last in court in 2004.
Acting Justice Robinson found there was no evidence that Turner had actively avoided any requests to attend court for appeal proceedings over the years.
The judge also said it appeared Turner, who had an extensive criminal history prior to the police pursuit, had only come before the courts for one unrelated matter since then.
"The evidence reveals an almost complete reversal of [Turner's] tendency to antisocial behaviour and offending subsequent to 2002," Acting Justice Robinson said.
"In the circumstances, I propose to allow the appeal on severity having regard to the passage of time and the now proven rehabilitation prospects of the offender."
Acting Justice Robinson ordered that the sentence of two years and three months in jail be quashed, and that Turner instead be sentenced to time already served.