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Serial drink-driver free

Mon August 20, 2012 3:01pm

A TERRITORY judge has quashed a three-month jail sentence given to a man for his eighth drink driving conviction because prison should be a "last resort".

Justice Dean Mildren said the sentencing magistrate placed "far too much weight" on Simeon Lalara's 23-page criminal history and seven previous convictions for drink driving. Lalara, 48, was given the jail term after pleading guilty to the single offence in Darwin Magistrates Court in April.The court heard he had been drinking with family members at Mindil Beach before he "succumbed to the pressure to drive".He was pegged on Ross Smith Ave, in Parap, with a reading of 0.140 per cent - almost three times the legal limit. During Lalara's sentencing, magistrate Greg Cavanagh said: "There must be a strong message go out from the courts to people who continue to drink and drive that, sooner or later, they will be imprisoned."But the Groote Eylandt senior ranger appealed the sentence in the NT Supreme Court because prison should only be an option of "last resort". Justice Mildren agreed, saying there had been a "significant" gap between the first six convictions and the last two.But Mr Cavanagh said the convictions were in a "continuous nature" broken when he served time in jail for manslaughter.Justice Mildren said a "significant fine" was a more appropriate penalty.He said the circumstances of the case "did not warrant" a prison sentence and instead imposed a $1000 fine.Batchelor pensioner Robert Orr Grant, 66, got his first jail sentence for drink driving at his 12th and 13th conviction. He got a 12- month jail sentence with a non-parole period of eight months in October 1997. In 2004, he spent four months in jail, when he blew .191.PLEASE NOTE: If you want to make comment on this case please do so without making specific reference to the judges involved.

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