Motorists could seek $5m refund over notorious red light camera
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December 11, 2008 01:05pm
THOUSANDS of motorists may seek refunds for $5 million in traffic fines from a notorious intersection after a dramatic ruling.
Dozens of Cheltenham red light traffic infringements incurred at the notorious Nepean Highway and Bay Rd intersection were this morning dismissed by a Moorabbin magistrate, the Bayside Leader reports.
The camera has amassed around $5 million and nabbed more than 12,000 motorists over the past two years, but all could now be appealed by the ruling made by magistrate Paul Smith.
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The ruling comes just a month after ex-traffic cop Robert Burnell, 75, lost the court battle over a fine he received at the intersection in almost identical circumstances. In his case, with a different magistrate, Mr Burnell was ruled to have entered the intersection illegally.
But today, Mr Smith dismissed more than 40 cases of people turning right on a red light at the intersection labelled the “Highway Robber’’ under a section of law giving magistrates leeway to impose no penalties despite guilty pleas being entered.
The defendants were all advised by Mr Smith to plead guilty, and told they would face no fine or point loss because the amber cycle was “in my view, way too short’’.
Drivers had originally been fined $220 and three penalty points for their offences.
Traffic Camera Office Supt Shane Patton said every defendant has still had the demerit points for the offence applied, but whether or not a fine was imposed was a judicial decision.
"This does not set any precedent for penalty outcomes in future cases," he said.
"All of the people who have chosen to take this matter to court and who have been found guilty today will now have a court record of guilt regarding the matter. If the initial infringement had been paid in the first instance, this would not have been the case.
"These results support our view that these offences were able to be proven in court. There are no plans to remove the red light camera from this location. "