BUSTED: No licence but kept on truckin' for 25 years
A 59-YEAR-OLD who has never held a driver's licence continues to be busted driving trucks, with the latest intercept involving a road train on a Central Queensland highway.
John Charles Francis Smith has spent four periods in prison for driving trucks while disqualified from driving in multiple states.
He was intercepted 90km north of Rockhampton on the Landsborough Highway by Longreach police on November 25, driving a road train, unlicensed.
Smith pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Rockhampton Magistrates Court to one count of driving while disqualified as a repeat unlicensed offender who has never held a driver's licence (offence committed at Dalby), one of driving a truck unlicensed on the Landsborough Highway and one of failing to appear in court.
Police prosecutor Julie Marsden said Main Roads and Transport Department safety officers intercepted Smith driving a road train for checks at 5pm on May 10, 2017, at Dalby.
She said Smith told officers he had gained a licence in 2014 in the Northern Territory, but checks revealed he had never held a driver's licence in any Australian state or territory.
A disqualification from a previous unlicensed drive had not expired prior to this intercept.
Smith was charged with driving while disqualified as a repeat unlicensed offender who has never held a driver's licence.
He failed to appear in court for that charge.
Smith was next intercepted by police on November 25 at 9.15am 90km north of Rockhampton on the Landsborough Highway driving another road train.
Ms Marsden said he told these officers he had a Queensland licence but had left it at home.
Checks revealed he did not have a current licence in any state.
The court heard there are warrants in his name in New South Wales and Victoria.
He had received a 12-month prison term in 2013 for four disqualified driving charges and served five months in prison.
Smith had 16 previous convictions for unlicensed or disqualified driving and had prison terms handed down twice in 2006 and once in 2004 for disqualified/unlicensed driving.
His first Queensland driving offence was in 1994 for driving a defective vehicle.
"It appears he has been driving in Queensland for almost 25 years," Ms Marsden said.
"This defendant has a complete disregard of laws. He's been offending while driving trucks as a form of employment."
Defence lawyer Grant Cagney said Smith was employed by a Toowoomba-based carrying and logistics company as a maintenance person.
He said Smith's employer had driven from Toowoomba to support Smith who had worked for him for six or seven months.
Mr Cagney said the employer had no idea Smith did not have a driver's licence, but still supported him, saying he was good maintenance workshop worker.
He said Smith had offered to drive the truck on this occasion and thought he was outside the last disqualification period imposed and had not offended between 2013-2017.
"He's made a foolish decision to help employers when he has been dishonest with them," Mr Cagney said.
He said Smith's employer's truck number plates had been taken off the truck for seven days because of this offending.
Despite this, the court was told Smith's employer wanted to keep him employed.
"He's nearly illiterate," Mr Cagney said.
"The only thing he's ever known is working around trucks."
Smith was ordered to a 10-month prison term head sentence, wholly suspended and operational for 4.5 years along with being disqualified from driving for three years.