Magistrate fails Transport Hall of Fame: Liz Martin

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The failure of a magistrate to order restitution following a burglary at the Road Transport Hall of Fame will spark a protest by her and supporters outside the Alice Springs courthouse, says the hall’s CEO, Liz Martin.
She is also a town councillor.

The heist netted three burglars more than $23,000 in cash. Of that $8500 was given to a man who later spent it on a car.
The man, Michael Foster, appeared before Magistrate David Bamber on April 15 charged with receiving the amount and with several other offences.

Ms Martin said: “I am extremely disappointed in Magistrate Bamber’s failure to address restitution.

“I really don’t care what sort of hard life or drug addiction Foster has. It all amounts to making a choice of where you go in life.
“And it’s all about accountability, responsibility and righting your wrongs, and my right to have restorative justice and I am not going to give up on seeking financial restitution.

“My right, under natural justice, to make comment on sentencing was denied me by the court.
“It is my endeavour to be given that right. Otherwise, it makes a farce of the Victim Impact Statement and what it is meant to achieve.

“The criminal behaviour has had a major impact, not on only on the financial well-being of our museum but in the morale of our volunteer workforce particularly in causing fear of violence,” says Ms Martin.

Police prosecutor Lindsay Westphal told the court: “The victim is seeking restitution for the money stolen,  $23,288.
“The National Road Transport Hall of Fame is a community based organisation, which gives a lot back to the community of Alice Springs. Those are the facts of the matter.”
Mr Bamber did not make an order for restitution and made no reference to Mr Westphal’s application.
Foster pleaded guilty to the charge of receiving and was sentenced to six months in prison.
Mr Bamber said Foster had an “appalling record in relation to property offences.
“He pleaded to receiving a large sum of money … to use it to get a vehicle. The way he did [this] is very serious offending. He has been sentenced to significant terms for a similar offence, and other related type of offending.
“A term of imprisonment for some months at least is called for. I will take into account that he has pleaded [guilty] at the very first opportunity and he has been cooperative with police.”
The defence counsel told the court Foster has “a significant problem with drugs.
“This offending is [against] the background of his drug addiction” and he is “vulnerable, saw an opportunity and took it. He decided to own up to his involvement.
“He wants to take full responsibility. He is on a roundabout of being in and out of jail constantly.
“He wants to go to DASA, when he has the opportunity, to get off drugs” and wants to engage “in support and counselling.”
The defence counsel said Foster was “time and time again before the court”.
His judgment in dealing with people is impaired. He is a young person.
He has a son he has not seen for some time, he lives in Darwin, “to his regret. He wants to be a good father one day.”
Forster is the product of a broken home: “There was a lot of domestic violence for a long time,” said the defence counsel.
“Nothing further, your Honour,” said the prosecutor.
He had earlier told the court that on March 27, co-offenders William Tilmuoth, Tylor Miller and Jamael Turner, entered the Hall of Fame, with a “common intention to unlawfully enter to steal property.”
They cut a hole in the perimeter fence, entered the main shed, turned off the power to the building, and forced open the door to the administration office.
They tipped the contents of drawers on the floor.
They found keys to two safes, and removed $15,228 from one and $8,000 from the other, $23,228 in total.
Foster was later shown the money by the co-offenders near Jay Creek: “They all drove to Alice Springs with the intent to buy a vehicle,” the court was told.
Foster made contact with “the owner of a sedan in Elder Street,” and offered him $8500 which the co-offender Turner had given to him.
Foster paid for the vehicle and “another family member signed the appropriate paper work,” said Mr Westphal.
On April 12 police were searching for Foster at 1872 Mulla Mulla Road. Foster ran from the police but was arrested in an adjoining property.
Foster told police that the co-offenders had been “bragging about the money”.
When police asked why he took the money knowing it had been stolen, Foster said “because I am broke. I was doing it for Jamael,” the court was told.
Ms Martin says she had received legal advice that the car could not be confiscated and given to the Hall because it had not been stolen from the Hall.
However, she says the Magistrate should have ordered Foster to make restitution – a message she intends to make the subject of a public demonstration.

PHOTOS: Some of the damage cause to the offices of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame, one of Alice Springs’ icons.

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13 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Richard Bentley
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    A recent announcement of Federal funds for CCTV coverage of known trouble spots should be of interest to authorities in this town. Elder St., Smith St., Gap Rd. among many others including the THofF could be worthy of improved security. There have been several reports of arrests as a result of CCTV coverage of Todd Mall even though the observations are made by persons located in Darwin.

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  2. Posted May 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Why is our law system so weak? Good people get hurt and offenders get off to do the same thing again. I bet these people responsible for breaking into The Hall of Fame, (and I bet its not the first time they have tried) think nothing and feel no responsibility how Liz and her crew feel with their breaking in.
    The law and these troublemakers hide behind the words, racist, alcohol, and any other excuse to not become responsible for their actions.
    Does anyone see a bottle of Johnny Walker getting up and destroying property?
    It’s the choice we all can make unless as we do blame others for our actions. It’s everyone choice to do what they do, not the victims’ or the alcohol’s.

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  3. CB
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    @5
    Paul’s argument seems solid. And it cannot be disproven until it has been tried. Criminals in our society have had it too easy for too long. How about our politicians / lawmakers grow a set of proverbials, and legislate restorative justice. Take this out of magistrates’ hands.
    Magistrate Bamber should be required to satisfactorily and publicly explain to the Attorney General, his decision why NOT to award restitution, or be removed from the position of Magistrate.
    The innocent suffer, criminals are tut-tutted. And this is socially accepted?

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  4. Peter McInerney
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Hard working Aussies cop it in the arse again. It’s a hard thing to do, that is to be the one who has to turn the other cheek only to have it slapped by people who just don’t care. Liz, try not to be discouraged (again). Your efforts and people like you are what makes transport the best industry to be in.

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

    @Paul Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm
    I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying here.
    I would only add that if the offender is an adult on welfare benefits, or a juvenile whose parents are, the BasicsCard guarantees that money for necessities are met. Take ALL the remainder until the amount owed has been reimbursed, and if that means years without discretionary income, then so be it.
    Money talks. Jailbirds walk. Restorative justice is worth a try, especially as nothing else seems to work.

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  6. Russell Guy
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    My sincere sympathies, Liz. Whilst it appears that alcohol was not directly involved in your loss, I wonder, as when last we communicated, you were prepared to look at a floor price as a means of helping police clean up anti-social behaviour.
    The extra resources available and the prevailing attitude would then be better employed in assisting honest business ventures like yours that make Alice, rather than detract from it.
    With the current ER stats supporting the BDR’s dismantling as a mistake, a community leader such as yourself speaking in support of these measures could test the water.

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  7. Ian Sharp
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Crikey, anonymous “David”, there goes judicial independence, something our ancestors fought long and hard for in centuries past. Whoosh, gone. Find out more about it before you turf it out. What definition of “justice” are you using there?

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  8. Paul
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    “Punitive” jail sentences seem to have little effect. Let’s give restorative justice a try.
    If the offender can pay then garnishee part of his income. If the offender is an adult on welfare benefits and the health and well-being of his or her children is affected by the imposition of a financial penalty, impose a sentence of 100% income quarantining for a period proportionate to the loss suffered by the victim. If the offender is a juvenile apply the same quarantining penalty on his/her parents.
    These measures would require legislative and policy changes but if the long term outcome is that adults are held accountable for damages and parents are held responsible for the behaviour of their children and children then learn to respect the rights (including property rights) that can only be a good thing.

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  9. David
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Judges and magistrates should be elected by the people. Then we would see justice done.

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  10. Ian Sharp
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    There is no such thing as a “natural justice right” to comment in court about sentencing. Courts could turn into popular entertainment if this ever happened. Liz has a perfect right to comment outside the court, as she is doing very ably. She also has a right to ask the prosecutors to appeal the decision re restitution I would have thought?
    Also, civil action against the thieves? Might lead to the sale of the car at least? Worth getting a legal opinion. Unfortunately there is a lesson here about keeping large sums on business premises, it seems word gets around. Bloody tough on the THofF though.

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  11. Mazzie
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Feel sorry for Liz and the volunteers at the Hall of Fame.
    It is marvelous what these people do, but to have it all destroyed is heartbreaking.

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  12. Tim Blatch
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:53 am

    That’s right Kevin. Blame the victim.

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  13. Kevin Mudford
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Umm, well, not a hope of getting any money out of a drug addict. Forget it, they will never cough up. Where is it going to come from? That amount of money should be in the bank not in a bloody safe some where. That’s a lot of money to be left lying a round.

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