Court fines man for stealing taxi for ‘joke’ joy ride

Therese ColmanAugusta Margaret River Times

A Margaret River man who stole a taxi and took it for a joy ride was spared a heavy penalty at the Margaret River Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

A 21-year-old electrical apprentice pleaded guilty to stealing a taxi minivan from the Bussell Highway taxi rank on Saturday, May 19.

Prosecuting officer Greg Ward told the court the offender and another man got into the van, but the driver told them it was booked.

“The accused agreed, the driver then left the vehicle, leaving the keys in the ignition, walking towards Settlers Tavern looking for his (customer),” he said.

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The court heard the apprentice then got into the driver’s seat, drove the taxi a short distance and parked it before running away.

Magistrate Brian Mahon said a “financial penalty to mark the seriousness of it” was sufficient, and commended the thief’s honesty in coming forward to Margaret River Taxis the following day and voluntarily handing himself in to the Margaret River police.

Sergeant Ward said more than a fine was needed. “I thought something needs to be handed down to him today other than just a fine,” the officer said.

“This is a resource used by most people that go out that time of the night.

“He’s an adult. He’s not 18 or 16, he’s 21. I know we all mature differently, but he would’ve known at the time of jumping into that driver’s seat. The repercussions need to be felt not only by him, but the community.”

Mr Mahon said the offender’s references read well and he seemed to be a “high-achiever”.

“You know about discipline, you know about teamwork, you know about keeping things happening sensibly ... so what happened that night?” he asked.

“The danger is when people get involved in stupid jokery like that, accidents can happen.

“You probably thought it was a good, harmless joke at the time, but it’s led you to a cost.”

The man was fined $1500 for stealing the taxi and $190.85 in court costs, and received a spent conviction with no driving disqualification.

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