A controversial case in which a rider was fined almost $300 for having a GoPro action camera on his helmet has been dismissed by a Melbourne Country Court judge.
It was the sixth time rider Max Lichenbaum had appeared before the court over the 2014 fine in what has been described as a farcical process and a waste of the court’s time on such a trivial matter.
After deliberating the case over night, Judge John Jordan simply said: “I set aside the magistrate’s verdict and dismiss the charge.”
On the previous appearance in court, the Magistrate reduced the fine to $150, but Max decided to fight the fine.
Pro bono defence counsel, Malcolm Cumming of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, says their defence argued that the Australian Standards only apply to a helmet when sold, the relevant rules are too difficult for the public to access ansd that there is no roadworthy test for helmets like there is for vehicles.
Read the full text of his arguments here.
The judge agreed with the defence argument that the laws were not accessible and didn’t need to consider the other arguments.
Malcolm says while he is happy with the verdict, there is “still a lot of work to do” because the compliance issue is not resolved.
“The verdict means people who have been convicted in Victoria ought not to have been,” he says. “You can’t do anything retrospectively, but it means it is now an open question in relation to whether compliance is ongoing.”
He says it doesn’t mean all Australian riders, no matter whether they are motorcyclists or cyclists, should be able to attach a camera to their helmet.
Malcolm says they have a lot of lobbying to do on the Victorian Government to get some consistency with other states such as South Australia, ACT and Queensland.
Max says he doesn’t know if it was worth all the hassle and effort, but is happy with the result which he says is good for everyone.
“Hopefully it will help other riders,” he says.
Max was disappointed he was not able to make a statement in court when the charge was dismissed.
“I wanted to say I wear all the safety gear plus a camera on my helmet, yet someone who rides around wearing thongs and shorts, no gloves but a helmet, well that’s legal.”
Longtime helmet campaigner Wayne Carruthers says the long time for the judge to deliver a verdict was due to the lawyers calling into question the validity of the entire regulations which meant complex legal arguments.
He says common sense prevailed and a precedent set which will force State Regulators towards the unified ARR for setting of standards.
He says it is hoped helmet offences are separated into multiple items such as not wearing any helmet and wearing a helmet with the wrong visor.
“This case also has implications for bicycle helmets and child restraints as they are also treated in the same way as helmets and outside the normal safety standards systems used for all other vehicle components.
“Regardless of the win, we now have an example of police and prosecutors wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money on a pointless exercise in power which can be used politically and in the mass media,” he says.