Threat to job from conviction implausible - judge

A teenage student who was convicted of careless driving appealed his conviction because he believed it could hinder his future chances of working as a lawyer.

But Justice Pankhurst dismissed the appeal in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday.

The appeal was made after justices of the peace last year refused to grant Bradley Charles Faul, 17, a discharge without conviction.

Faul's lawyer, Dale Lloyd, argued yesterday that Faul's conviction could hinder his chances of getting a job as a qualified lawyer when he completed his law degree.

Justice Pankhurst said section 107 of the Sentencing Act provided that a discharge without conviction was appropriate if consequences of the conviction were out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

But in Faul's case the consequences were not out of all proportion, he said.

"The argument advocated was that . . . it could hinder his employment prospects . . . but I am not persuaded that a conviction for careless use [of a vehicle] is likely to count against him on the job market. To my mind, it is implausible to think a choice between people competing for a job would come down to discrimination between them on the basis of this conviction."

Earlier, the court heard that Faul had been driving on State Highway 8 near Omarama on November 27 when he crashed his car after briefly falling asleep behind the wheel. A car travelling in the opposite direction braked heavily to avoid a collision.

Faul suffered minor injuries and his car was extensively damaged.

Police had initially told Faul his case was suitable for diversion , but after finding out Faul had 70 demerit points, probably as a result of two speeding offences in recent months, the police had changed their minds, Justice Pankhurst said.

He said he had sympathy for Faul.

"As a young 17-year-old, he made an error of judgment but this should certainly never be held against him in the future. It's not to be regarded as relevant to his worth in his future career."

The extra 35 demerit points accumulated as a result of Faul's careless driving conviction, bringing his total demerit points above 100, would result in Faul losing his licence for three months, the court was told.

Darryn Edward Gutsell, shearer, yesterday appealed his convictions for careless driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol without having proper control. Justice Pankhurst reserved his decision.

The Southland Times