A DISTURBANCE erupted outside the Wonthaggi Magistrates’ Court last Friday, and on the nature strip outside the court in Watt Street, after Magistrate Andrew McKenna ejected a 41 year old Boolarra man from the court.
Phillip Schuhmann, who was facing five low-level traffic offences in the court, following an incident at Loch in February last year, was ordered from the court by the magistrate for what he described as “extremely loud and aggressive behaviour” during the preliminary discussions between the magistrate, police prosecutor and the alleged offender.
During those discussions, Mr McKenna initially warned Mr Schuhmann not to interrupt the police prosecutor, Leading Senior Constable Mick Kuyken, after the accused man said he didn’t recognise the magistrate’s authority.
It prompted Mr Schuhmann to turn to police and Protective Services officers behind him in the court and ask: “Are you going to bash me or what?”
However when asked by the magistrate if he was Mr Schuhmann, the alleged offender didn’t answer directly.
He again said he didn’t recognise the magistrates’ authority, that neither he nor the magistrate had a contract to conduct the proceedings and while he had previously engaged a lawyer, he claimed he only had eight hours to organise alternative representation when his solicitor withdrew at the last minute.
The exchange between the two degenerated from there with Mr McKenna finally ordering that Mr Schuhmann be “removed from the court by force”.
“The removal was not smooth,” Mr McKenna later recorded during his summing up.
He said Schuhmann continued to yell “all sorts of abuse” and assert that he was being assaulted, as he was removed from the court and for five minutes afterwards outside.
In his absence, the court case progressed.
The court was told that two Korumburra Police Officers, Acting Sergeant Glenn Rielly and Senior Constable Brett Guy, were driving a divisional van along the South Gippsland Highway at Loch on February 17 last year, at about 9.40pm, doing routine traffic work, when they noticed a car near the intersection with Dilger Road without a front headlight.
Act Sgt Rielly, who gave sworn evidence in the case, said he u-turned and followed the car when he noticed the car also had no tail-lights.
It was completely dark at the time, said Act Sgt Rielly.
He said he got to a short distance behind the car and activated his red and blue flashing lights, the driver slowed to around 40km/h, pulled to the edge of the road, but continued on along the edge of the highway for a further 800m before stopping.
However when Act Sgt Rielly got out of his car, the driver moved off again and drove slowing along the edge of the road for another 600m before stopping near the intersection of Poowong-Loch Road. The driver had earlier motioned for the police car to pass.
This time Act Sgt Rielly was able to approach the car and saw Schuhmann talking on the mobile phone, as it turned out, to the Emergency ‘000’ service to report the incident. A recording of the call was played for the court.
After agreeing to a preliminary breath test and there being no alcohol use indicated, police said Schuhmann drove off in the direction of Korumburra, despite the fact that Mr Rielly had informed the driver that he wanted to perform a roadworthy check on the car.
Schuhmann was subsequently charged with five offences; failing to stop, failing to stop after being given direction to stop, failed to obey lawful direction by police (to remain so they could conduct a roadworthy test), fail to produce a licence and drive an unroadworthy vehicle.
The magistrate found all charges proven and handed down a combined fine of $1200 while cancelling Schuhmann’s licence for six months.
The Boolarra man has not been charged with any offences relating to the incident at the court last Friday or what transpired outside the court afterwards.