'Gold' case sent back to court after driver wins his appeal
A SECURITY officer has successfully convinced a court he had a legitimate reason for driving 40kmh over the speed limit - he had a car full of gold.
And even though the Court of Appeal has compared David Myles McNamara's story to a scene from a cheap crime novel, the court has agreed his intial plea of guilty to speeding should be set aside.
Mr McNamara claimed he was driving from Townsville to the Gold Coast on May 16, 2011, with 90 ounces of gold bullion, worth $126,000.
Mr McNamara said the gold was to be used in a property deal on the Gold Coast and only the real estate agent knew about the form of payment.
A speed camera caught Mr McNamara travelling 142kmh in a 100kmh zone on the Bruce Highway at Tannum Sands.
Mr McNamara was charged with speeding and pleaded guilty in the Gladstone Magistrates Court.
But the Court of Appeal, in a written judgment delivered on Friday, has found the plea was a miscarriage of justice and should have been regarded as equivocal.
Justice James Douglas wrote that Mr McNamara's reason for speeding could warrant a defence under law, in that the driver was dealing with an extraordinary emergency.
Mr McNamara claimed he was on route to the Gold Coast with the gold on board when a car began to tailgate him with its high beams on.
The car continued to follow him for 80km, despite Mr McNamara slowing down to allow for overtaking.
"He perceived this as an attempt to hijack him or his car and as a seriously life-threatening situation," Justice Douglas stated.
"He believed it would be dangerous to pull over and decided to speed up to outrun his pursuers.
'It was then he believes he was caught by the speed camera."
Mr McNamara provided the court with a detailed breakdown of his journey, including fuel receipts and a reconstruction of the speeds he travelled at.
A court transcript detailing Mr McNamara's plea in in 2012, showed Mr McNamara discussed with the judge pleading not guilty or guilty after he submitted his detailed reasoning for the offence.
The judge eventually asked Mr McNamara if he was pleading guilty.
"Well, yeah, I believe that's what I have to do because I was speeding," he replied.
Mr McNamara was convicted and received no fine but Queensland Transport suspended his licence.
Mr McNamara, who requires a licence to work, appealed the decision in the District Court, which found his licence would have been suspended for a conviction or not.
In the Court of Appeal, Mr McNamara argued his original plea was equivocal and should not have been accepted.
Justice Douglas found Mr McNamara may have indicated he would plead guilty because he did speed, but his explanation clearly raised the possibility of a extraordinary emergency defence.
"The consequences of allowing the guilty plea to stand are that the appellant's earning capacity has been significantly impaired and he has been convicted where he has a reasonable argument that he should not have been," he wrote.
Justice Hugh Fraser and Justice Margaret Wilson agreed.
The Court of Appeal ordered an appeal be allowed, the guilty plea be set aside and the matter be sent back to the Gladstone Magistrates Court.