Cops hit out at ‘discount’ penalty for protester
Police fear a "worrying precedent" after a Brisbane protester walked from court with a more lenient sentence than the infringement notice he initially received.
Refugee activist Luke Evitts, 19, was fined $533 for a roadway sit-in outside Kangaroo Point Central Hotel where immigration detainees have been kept since last year.
Evitts elected to contest the ticket in Brisbane Magistrates Court today pleading guilty to contravening a police direction.
The court heard the hospitality worker was part of a group which was lawfully protesting but then conducted a sit in on the road in June last year.
Police prosecutor Sgt Matt Kahler said officers instructed the group to move and fined them when they refused.
Evitts' Legal Aid lawyer Bree Callanan said the protesters had made 120 meals for the refugees and were refusing to budge until the food was given to the detainees.
Ms Callanan said her client, who earns only $300 a week, had limited capacity to pay a fine and sought a good behaviour bond or a small fine.
Sgt Kahler said that path might set a "worrying precedent".
"I wouldn't want a precedent to be set that the way to avoid a ticket is to come to court and get a lesser value," he said.
"I know he's got no history but it does set a precedent that if you contest the matter that you're going to get a discount."
Magistrate Penelope Hay said she accepted Mr Kahler's submission but the court's discretion allowed it to take into account the personal circumstances of each defendant.
" For example, it might seem unreasonable for someone who perhaps had a lengthy history of like offending to get the same penalty that (Evitts) received as a first off occasion," she said.
She highlighted Evitts' youth, no criminal history, early plea of guilty and co-operation with police, factors that should reduce his penalty.
Ms Hay sentenced Evitts to a six month $500 good behaviour bond. The amount has to be paid only if Evitts reoffends in the next six months.
No conviction was recorded.
Originally published as Cops hit out at 'discount' penalty for Brisbane protester