16 December 2004





No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon has called on the Attorney General and the Police Minister to provide urgent reports on the Byron Pickett case. Mr Xenophon says the public has a right to know:  

  1. Why Mr Pickett was not charged for driving whilst suspended or disqualified (pursuant to section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act) in June 2004 – and instead only given a caution, in a move that criminal lawyers have described as “highly unusual” for that offence.

  2. Whether the Police will now charge Mr Pickett for the June 2004 offence, and if not, why not.
  3. Why the Police did not inform the court of Mr Pickett’s previous interstate driving convictions, given that it is usual practice for the Police to do interstate checks on prior offences – particularly in a case where Mr Pickett’s prior driving history was the subject of media reports.
  4. If the Police did know about Mr Pickett’s prior offences, was there any agreement reached with Mr Pickett’s lawyer not to mention it to the Magistrate.

“The Premier, Mr Rann, trumpets himself as a ‘law and order’ Premier – and I don’t have a problem with that – but the law should apply equally whether you’re rich or poor, a politician or a constituent, a football star or a spectator.”

“The Premier and the Attorney-General spoke out on the Nemer case because of public disquiet of a perception that the law was not being applied equally. The Premier, the Attorney and the Police Minister should also investigate this case and provide answers to the public. They should be demanding answers from those that made the decisions not to charge for the June incident, and for failing to mention his prior offences.”

Mr Xenophon said he received advice today from experienced criminal lawyers that:

bulletFor a person caught driving whilst suspended or disqualified under section 91 of the Motor Vehicles Act, it makes no difference at law for penalty purposes whether the license has been lost because of demerit points or by a court order  (Crook v Roberts, South Australian Supreme Court decision of 1990 - 53 SASR 236)
bulletInterstate offences, including drink driving charges, while not being treated as a prior offence for the purposes of the more serious penalty in the legislation, will be taken into account by a court in determining the penalty.


“This case sends the wrong message at the worst possible time of year, especially to young drivers most at risk for this type of behaviour.”   


Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075